Fall is my favorite season on the East Coast. The weather is lovely. The insects start to go away. And there are pumpkins. If you have known me for any length of time, you may be aware that I love pumpkin pie. You may not be aware that I actually love all things pumpkin! Whenever pumpkin juice was mentioned in the Harry Potter books, I drooled. I imagined it tasted like liquid pumpkin pie. Pumpkin soup, ditto.
And pumpkin pie is the best, most wonderful creation ever.
I like to make my own pie, so that I don't have to wait for Thanksgiving to have some. Usually I just use Libby's canned pumpkin, but I have been known to start at the source with a pie pumpkin (a sugar pumpkin to some.)
Now I know you have all carved jack-o-lanterns at Halloween. It is fun, and relatively painless. But have you ever tried to cut a pie pumpkin? Whole different kettle of fish. Or seeds. Whatever, you understand.
Pie pumpkins are tough, like gourds. (Like bear, for all your Christopher Moore fans out there.) It is hard to get started. I tried using a knife and began to worry that I would dull all my knives. So I got creative.
Yes, that is a chisel and a mallet. It didn't work so well. As you can see, the pumpkin grabbed the chisel and didn't let go. Visions of missing fingers danced in my head. And I didn't get very far, either.
So, like all good librarians, I decided to do some research. Like most researchers, I waited until I had started the project. Like most Americans, I went to the internet. And found something wonderful. A play-by-play account of how to cut a pie pumpkin! Thank you, kitchn!
What I found was that you need to use a sharp knife, and cut down the pumpkin, with the ridges. Innovative!
Wiggle. if necessary.
Continue around the bottom.
And then pull it apart with your hands when you reach the stem.
Now, being a forward-thinking sort of lady, and knowing my immense capacity for pie, I realized that one little pumpkin may not satisfy for long. And if I was going to go to all this trouble for one pumpkin, why not do three?
One pie needs a cup and a half of cooked pumpkin. One pumpkin gives a little more than that. So three pumpkins might make four pies. No waste.
The pies are now in the oven, where they will cook for an hour at 350. Then I will scoop them out, allow it to cool, and bag up individual pie's worth of pumpkin and freeze. Yay!
The seeds aren't going to waste, though, don't you worry!
These delicious, slimy buggers are going to be washed and separated from their slimy, orange, stringy bits. Then I will save a handful of the seeds to plant next spring, and will season and bake the rest. But that is a post for another day.
One final thought, if you try the "creative" way first, don't forget to wash the chisel and put it away before your spouse comes home!
Three pumpkins yield enough innards for 5 pies. Whoopee! But they take longer to cook. A problem I should have anticipated, but at least I had to time to stick them back in the oven.
And, yes, I am going to go get more pumpkins. This was too easy.