Sunday, October 13, 2013

Candy Roaster Pumpkin (Or Is It Squash?)

 
We went to the local Pumpkin Patch with our grand-girls this past week and there were so many kinds of pumpkins, it was a little mind boggling.  I asked one of the staff what kind of pumpkin should I buy for baking?   "Hands down, it is the Candy Roaster" she said.  Sounds beautiful doesn't it?  I was shocked when she took me to the bin with these terribly ugly squash looking things!
 
 
But I trusted her and bought one.  When I got home, I did what every blogger does and I sat down and researched it.  Here is what I found out:  it is an heirloom squash (yes squash) and was originally developed by the Cherokee people in the southern Appalachians.  It is said that the Appalacian Candy Roaster was used for the pie at the first Thanksgiving feast!  So its very special.  Today it  seems to be referred to interchangeably as squash and pumpkin. 

 
  After my little bit of research I proceeded to bake it.  Here's what I did.  Cut it in half right down the middle (mainly because it was way too long to fit in my oven).

 
Then cut it in half the other way and removed the seeds and pumpkin guts.  (On a side note:  I carefully rinsed and saved the seeds and roasted them later in a tiny bit of butter and sea salt.  Oh. My. Word.  Amazing is all I can say.)

 
Then I put all the pumpkin on foil covered jelly roll pans in the oven and baked in a 350 degree oven for a very long time.  I didn't time it - I just kept checking the pumpkin with a fork until it was nice and tender.  I think about an hour. 

 
I learned this:  next time I will place the pumpkin skin side up so that the juices don't dry up and so that it just cooks but doesn't actually brown.

 
 I carefully removed the skin and cut the pumpkin into large chunks.  (But first I tasted it.  It is the best tasting stuff ever.  Kind of a mix between squash, pumpkin and sweet potato.  Incredibly sweet and wonderful texture.)

 
Then I put those chunks (about 3 at a time) in my blender and added a tiny bit of water (very tiny) and blended to a nice puree.  If you have a food processor that would probably work better.

 
There it is.  Isn't that the most gorgeous color ever? 

 
I set aside two cups to make a pumpkin pie but the rest I put in freezer bags.  Incidentally, when you do this if you fold over the top of the freezer bag then it stabilizes it and it will actually stand up so you can put the pumpkin puree in without a big mess.

 
I put two cups of puree in each bag as that is what my pumpkin pie recipe calls for and seemed like a logical amount!

 
Unfold the top of the bag, squeeze out the air, and zip it shut.

 
Sixteen cups of perfect pumpkin puree in my freezer!
 
So now the big question.  What do I think about it?  I will say that I am not a pumpkin connoisseur but, hands down I think its the yummiest pumpkin (or squash) I've ever tasted. 
 
Come back in a few days for the post on the best pumpkin pie I've ever made! 


18 comments:

  1. I have never, ever heard of this squash/pumpkin and I will be looking forward to seeing what you think about it in a pie. I LOVE pumpkin pie and usually just used canned pumpkin (I am distantly related to the Libby family of the famous Libby pumpkin cans).

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  2. Dori, Thank you, Thank you.... I have actually been wondering how to use fresh pumpkin... and I love that this one has a wonderful history story behind it... and that you shared how it tasted... Can't wait to see how the pie turns out... I love your blog.... Have a wonderful week.... Connie in Ky.....

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  3. Dori, Thanks for sharing. I personally don't care for pumpkin pie, but I love pumpkin cake. We are headed to the Smokies this next week and I will be searching farm stands on the way for this pumpkin.

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  4. Wow. I hadn't ever seen one of these. I absolutely love pumpkin recipes. My grandparents always grow cushaws so we have "cushaw" pie instead of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and they are fabulous!! :D

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  5. I somehow missed this post!! I want one of those squash pumpkins! I am going to look and see if there are any in my neck of the woods.

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  6. I'm happy to see someone else who knows what a candy roaster is finally! We have always used them, in fact passed down through my mother's family which has Cherokee ancestry. They are wonderful, and I can't imagine using anything else for pies, etc. My mom and uncle grow them every year and also freeze the excess for later.

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  7. ...also Dori, we always turn them upside down for baking:-)

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  8. My mom who will be 82 this Thanksgiving season speaks longingly about Candy Roasters. She remembers them from her years on the farm deep in the Smokey Mountains. I was looking for seeds although I'm not a gardner and found this post. So glad to know this isn't just a family name for some obscure squash/pumpkin. Now, if I can just find someone locally (Triad NC) who has grown these I'll have something to take to our family reunion/Thanksgiving dinner. I'm sure her sister (85 years old) would enjoy having some as well. If it is well liked enough the family farmers may grow more. Donna M.

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    1. The Waynesville, NC (Haywood County) library has a seed library. I made sure they had an ample supply of seeds to "loan" to anyone that wants some. You might give them a call next planting season.

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  9. Sustainabke mtn agriculture has these appalachian squash seeds. Fyi I ordered seeds to grow in my garden this upcoming spring/summer. Cabt wait to see how they do.

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  10. Southeast and in the Hills they call them candyroasters. Everywhere else they are called banana squash. Same thing. Either way about as good as squash gets, but too large for my space; so I grow baby butternuts which are very nearly as good. Zone 4 and I know bananas will ripen here, too.

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  11. I love these candyroasters! Someone told me that they were good for pies. I saw some this fall and picked up one. Boy, they were right! These things are great for pie. If you are interested in trying another squash for your pumpkin pies, you should try the cushaw squash. They are excellent, too!

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  12. How long do they get?

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  13. Where to get those seeds--my Dad used those squash many years ago-I want some.

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    1. Here is a link to where you can purchase the Candy Roaster seeds:
      http://www.rareseeds.com/search/?F_Keyword=candy%20roaster

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  14. I am growing these in my garden this season. Can't wait, as I have heard so many great things about them! Btw, this is a Winter squash, sort of like butternut but sweeter and stores even better.

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  15. I have grown these in Wyoming for the past two years with great success. My biggest one this year was 31 inches long and weighed 27.5 pounds! We love them !

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  16. I have grown these in Wyoming for the past two years with great success. My biggest one this year was 31 inches long and weighed 27.5 pounds! We love them!

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