October is finally here again – my most favourite month of the year. I am always so sad to see it go, and elated to see it come back.
When I think of October, I think of cool nights and warm spices, of crunchy leaves and soft gingerbread, of orange leaves and well… orange pumpkins. October is the month I start nesting for Winter, baking and pickling, and sewing and crafting.
I thought it would be nice to start October with a chat about pumpkins. Not that I think that October is the only month we should concentrate on pumpkins – they are a wonderful and versatile fruit (that’s right, fruit!) that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.
These pumpkins, used decoratively at our wedding and currently sitting on our front porch and veranda, will be made into pumpkin puree and canned, probably before the end of the month.
Pumpkins and nutrition go hand in hand. Pumpkins are packed full of the antioxidants alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which are converted by our bodies into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is good for immunity and vision. And listen to this, ladies – alpha-carotene is thought to slow the aging process. Pumpkin Olay anyone?
Alright, back to food. Canned pumpkin found on store shelves can stretch across several recipes, so you can make muffins, cake, pudding, bread pudding, pasta sauce, scones, and creme brulee all from the same can!
If you haven’t tried pumpkin puree, now is the time! If you’d like to try to make your own pumpkin puree, give it a go. It’s really quite easy. The following method is taken from Joy of Baking:
“If you want to make your own pumpkin puree you need to use the small Sugar Pie, Baby Bear or Cheese Pumpkins (approximately 5-7 lbs., 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 kg.) which are sweeter and less fibrous than the larger pumpkins we typically use for jack-o’-lanterns. When choosing pumpkins look for ones that feel solid and are heavy for their size, free of blemishes, cracks, and soft spots. Once you are ready to make the puree; cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove seeds and stringy fibers, and place cut-side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350F for approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours (depending on size) or until easily pierced with a knife. Then scoop out the pulp and puree in a food processor until smooth. You can then strain the puree through a cheesecloth-lined strainer to extract all the liquid. Make sure to cool the puree before using.”