Jams, Purees, Sauces · Pumpkin · Recipes

Pumpkin Purée + Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Last Saturday, I picked up pie pumpkins at Countryside Farmers’ Market. I got some from Martha’s Farm and Log Cabin Organic Farm. Pie pumpkins are smaller and sweeter than carving pumpkins.

When I’m at the market and meet the people who’ve planted, nurtured, harvested and given life to their crops and the earth, I feel compelled to bring that food into my home and savor it. I want to give vegetables and fruits even more life and enjoy all they have to offer in taste and nutrition. It’s important to me and a real blessing to have access to wonderful food. I also believe food should be fresh, simple and easy to prepare.

Homemade pumpkin purée is super easy to make and it tastes better than the stuff you find in stores. You just need a little time, an oven and a food processor or blender to whip up your own puree. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used my share of canned pumpkin. It’s convenient and most of the organic ones I’ve tried are just fine. We eat a lot of pumpkin goodies in my house and most days there’s no time to make my own. However, sometimes, I’m reminded to slow down, enjoy the harvest and cherish the process of making my own ingredients.

This color alone should be motivation enough for you to make your own pumpkin purée! I use pumpkin in a variety of things: breads, pancakes, waffles, beagle food, lattes, pasta, risotto, cookies, pies, cakes, puddings…you name it and I’ll find a way to incorporate pumpkin!

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It all starts with the pie pumpkins.

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Simply cut the tops off and split them right down the middle.  A nice, sharp knife makes this pretty easy.

Scoop out the seeds and keep them.  We’ll talk about roasting those later!

Daisy Mae smelled pumpkin and came to scope out the situation in the kitchen! Be patient, girl!

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Once all the pumpkins are clean, place them flesh side down on a cookie sheet and add a little water then bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until a fork pierces through easily.

Once they’re nice and tender, take them out of the oven and let them cool.  Scoop out the meat of the pumpkin and place in a food processor or blender.

Process or blend until smooth. Transfer to jars or containers of your choice. It freezes well!  If you freeze it, just thaw in the fridge when you need it. If you plan to use some right away, it will be just fine in the fridge for about a week.

Homemade pumpkin purée is silky and flavorful. Pumpkin is a great source of potassium and beta-carotene and contains some minerals including calcium and magnesium, as well as vitamins E, C and some B vitamins.

Using ingredients I pick up at the farmers’ market gives me a sense of place in the local food cycle. There’s something special about knowing where it all came from and interacting with the people who worked incredibly hard to produce something so delicious and nutritious. It’s pretty amazing that I get all those good feelings from making pumpkin purée from local pumpkins, huh? I’m such a food geek!

I hope you make this and enjoy the process! Find a market or farm, choose your pumpkins and spend the afternoon getting to know your food and truly appreciate it. See it, feel it, smell it then taste it! I have so many plans for my pumpkin purée and I can’t wait to share them with you! Also, Daisy loves it!

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Don’t forget the seeds, they’re one of the best parts! There’s no easy way to clean them.  Just try to pull out most of the stringy orange pieces and soak the seeds in warm water and keep rinsing/soaking a few times to get them clean. The strings will keep sinking to the bottom. Once they’re all clean, lay them out to dry.

I experimented with three flavors for my seeds:
Sweet: raw wildflower honey + brown sugar + pumpkin pie spice + vanilla
Brighton Wool and Honey’s Raw Wildflower Honey is YUMMY! Don’t get me started on their laundry detergent, bee pollen and soap.  Yeah, they’re just fantastic all the way around!

Spicy: olive oil + spicy blossom honey infused with Carolina Reaper + hubby’s Ghost Pepper salt
This honey from Fuego Spice Co is pretty amazing!

Spicy/Sweet: olive oil + chili powder + brown sugar

I divided the seeds into bowls and used 1 cup of seeds per flavor with 1 TBSP of the oil or honey then added in the sugar and spices. I let them soak for at least an hour then spread on parchment and baked at 375 for 10-15 minutes. Store them in glass containers to keep them crisp. Get creative! You can literally do any kind of spice combination!

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That’s all the pumpkin I’ve got for now! Let me know if you make the purée and what you plan to use it for! Go the extra mile and make the seeds for snacking or, better yet, take a jar to your local farmer!

From the heart,
Shannon

Pumpkin Purée
Ingredients
4-6 pound pie pumpkins
Instructions
1. Cut the tops off the pumpkins
2. Cut the pumpkins in half
3. Scoop out the insides and save the guts
4. Place the pumpkins flesh side down on a baking sheet and add about 1/4 inch of water
5. Bake at 350 for 60-90 minutes, checking periodically after 60 minutes; when a fork pierces through easily, they are finished
6. Let the pumpkins cool and then scoop the meat out into a food processor or blender
7. Process the pumpkin until smooth and transfer to jars or containers
8. Store in the freezer and defrost when needed or keep in the fridge for up to one week

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Jams, Purees, Sauces · Pumpkin · Recipes

Pumpkin Pie Spice

It’s here!  Pumpkin spice season has become such a big deal.  It’s in everything and it’s everywhere. I’ve loved it forever. There’s just something about it that’s comfy and pleasant. I feel cozy whenever I add it to a food or drink.

The challenge I encounter this time of year is that pumpkin pie spice is in everything but it’s hard to find the actual spice. It seems like it’s not available until end of October and I get on the pumpkin baking train in September. Maybe August.  It’s also kind of expensive. I make my own. I actually like it more than store bought.

You can make as much as you want. Some for you and some to share. I like to include a small jar with a pumpkin baked good as a gift. It just makes it feel more special!

Start with really good spices.  You’d be surprised at how many extra ingredients are added to spices.  No need for the preservatives or anything else that’s not the spice name. The great thing about making your own pumpkin pie spice is you can MAKE IT YOUR OWN! This is the combination I like! Bring on all the warmth with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and ginger. Combine and store in a jar or container.

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I use this mixture in all my fall pumpkin baked goods and drinks. It’s yummy in cold brew and hot coffee/tea (I add it to my coffee grounds before brewing) and much less expensive and more healthy to make your own seasonal drinks at home. All the pumpkin things need the spice: breads, crème brûlée, cinnamon rolls, pies, cookies, french toast, oatmeal, coffee, cocktails and anything else you can put a fall spin on.

I indulge in this spice throughout the fall and winter seasons. As a matter of fact, since typing this, I’ve felt the urge to put on a big sweatshirt and enjoy a little pumpkin pie spice treat (that recipe will be posted tomorrow)! Cozy up, friends!

From the heart,
Shannon

Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 TBS Ground Cinnamon
2 tsp Ground Ginger
2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
1 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves

Combine and place in an airtight jar or container. You can double or triple this to make enough to share.

Jams, Purees, Sauces · Recipes

Berry Jam

Happy Saturday!  I mentioned in my previous post that I’d share my easy jam recipe.  I don’t use pectin or spend hours making jam.  This jam is bright and fresh and can be modified to include your favorite seasonal berries.  I’ve made variations with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and mixed in different herbs like thyme and basil.

I love it and everyone I’ve made it for loves it!  It’s yummy on toast, scones, biscuits and makes an incredible topper for ice cream.  If you’re like me and scooping up all the fresh, local berries you can right now, give this jam a try.  It’s easy and delicious!

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Start with berries.  It’s strawberry season so that’s what I’m using.  Slice them and place in a medium saucepan.  Lightly mash the berries.  Add maple syrup, lemon juice, orange juice and herbs if you’re using.

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Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 55-60 minutes.  Cool and jar it up!

Super simple.  This also makes a fun gift that’s jam packed with love!  🙂  The full recipe is below. Have fun!

From the heart,
Shannon

Berry Jam

Ingredients
About 6 cups berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries–use one kind or mix)
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Optional:  2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or basil or rosemary leaves

Directions
Place the berries in a medium saucepan. Lightly mash the berries (you can use a potato masher, pastry blender or a fork). Add the maple syrup, lemon juice, orange juice and herbs if using. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 55-60 minutes until thick. Cool for about 2 hours. The jam will continue to thicken. Refrigerate in air-tight jars for up to 1 month. Spread on everything!

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