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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Clearing the decks aka pumpkin processing time

It's that time of year, to clear the windowsills to make room for seed sowing that will shortly commence. That means starting to give away/eat/compost last year's basil as I grow afresh this year..... and doing something with all the pumpkinny squash type things. I must admit they do make a cheerful decoration on the windowsills during the winter months and as they don't seem to go off any quicker in the warmth I tend to leave them here - as frankly I've got more room to store them on the windowsills than the garage which is full of spuds and apples! I also desperately need to clean the windows now as they have provided a jolly good excuse not to during the winter!

Last October, you can see the sort of things I put on
the windowsills to ripen or dry out - even the cat.

Hall windowsill - Regular and Thai basil, butternuts
and Jack Be Little pumpkins

Even the spare bedroom.... and that's NOT my choice
of decor before you say anything about the pink carpet!

The potimarrons have been eaten, as they don't last so long and they are the ones we like best roasted and eaten savoury. That leaves me with butternuts which I pulp and freeze for all things sweet and then last year's oddballs, the Jack Be Littles. I've never grown them before and never will again, as two plants just swamped a huge part of my veg patch and produced about 50+ fruit, which have taken forever to ripen. 

You can't peel the little buggers which only leaves roasting as an option, and they don't taste that brilliant that way. So I thought of baking them then scooping out the flesh to use in soup. 

Like this

Which produced this:

Hmmmm. It doesn't look very appetising and is rather stringy, which I hope will be blitzed away when I turn it into soup. I have a confession to make. This was too time consuming for very little end product so the rest of them have been given to my OH who is enjoying using them as target practice for his rifle; what's left after they've been blasted to smithereens with different kinds of bullets will be composted! (Yes I have an OH who has got into GUNS, but not for hunting I hasten to add. Target shooting is fun and I'm enjoying it too..... but hey I digress).

OK butternuts. I still have 3 left in good nick so I cooked up the ones that were starting to go wrinkly and/or rubbery. They are still perfectly good like this. I peel them, chop 'em up and boil them - they only need 10 mins if that.

Then strain and mash them up and then put in some muslin and squeeze out the excess liquid - et voila - sweet pumpkin puree ready to turn into cake or pie or muffins or whatever you fancy. I put the puree in marge tubs to freeze but first weigh the contents and mark the weight on them so I know how much is there, i.e. 500g for pumpkin pie, which just fits perfectly into a (French) marge tub.

And now ..... drum roll..... you know what I'm going to say don't you?


It just so happened that I'd made some mini pumpkin pies before Christmas and froze the excess, and have been finishing them off over the last few days :-)

I expect you want some recipes now..... well I'm very cross with a certain UK supermarket chain beginning with A because several of my fave recipes were on their site - which has now changed *rolls eyes* so my links for those recipes are lost. I have found the soup one I like reposted elsewhere, but it's been changed into Imperial American rather than the metric I prefer, but as it's soup I don't really need to worry too much about exact quantities.

Here's the pumpkin pie recipe I use:

Pumpkin Pie

shortcrust pastry using 400g flour (which is enough to line my flan dish which is 26cm x 6cm high)
500g  pumpkin puree
175g soft dark brown sugar
3 X 2.5ml spoons ground cinnamon
1 X 2.5ml spoon salt
2 X 2.5ml spoons ground ginger
1 X 2.5ml spoon grated nutmeg
the merest hint of ground cloves
3 large eggs
375ml evaporated milk

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface, and use it to line a 25cm pie or flan dish; chill in a refrigerator.
Mix the pumpkin with the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
Beat the eggs in another bowl, add milk and mix well.
Mix the eggs and milk into the pumpkin mixture and pour into the pastry case.
Bake in a fairly hot oven, 190°C (or Gas 5) for about 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Serve cold with cream.


  1. Oh I'm very jealous of your deep windowsills as mine are tiny and my poor seeds regularly get knocked off, but I did laugh at your OH using those darling little pumpkins as target practise. That sounds like fun.xx

  2. He has found a new use for our conkers as well as excess courgettes.... lol