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!