Halloween is past, and the world is still littered with pumpkins. The carved ones have started to rot, while the specimens still intact remain as autumn decorations, perhaps destined to be consumed in bread and muffins and pie.
Likely not, though. We are a country that likes its food pre-packaged with all the hard work done for us. Around this season, that means “homemade” pumpkin delicacies are made with canned pumpkin: mechanically produced, preserved, dulled down, and resweetened with sugar (or, more likely, corn syrup). This is sad to me, and every fall I tirelessly sing the praises of fresh pumpkin. The process is a little more involved than opening a can, but it is still relatively simple, and the results are worth it. (Pro tip: make a pie using fresh pumpkin puree, and you will be everybody’s best friend; this I know from experience.) As you consume any treat freshly made, you may find yourself tasting something you never have before: the actual flavor of pumpkin.
How about that?
To make the pumpkin puree, cut a pie pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and pulp. Place both halves face down in a casserole dish with about an inch of water and bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until the meat is soft. When it has cooled, scoop out the meat and puree. You may need to add a little water from the dish to get it to a proper smoothness.
Now that you have delicious pumpkin puree, I present to you my own personal recipe for a simple pumpkin milkshake. It tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass.
¾ cup fresh pumpkin puree
1 cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves to taste
Simply place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. It can be made thicker by adding more pumpkin or cream, or by reducing the amount of milk. This recipe makes about two servings.
Photo: Allan Day