Pumpkins are showing off everywhere, be it the big gigantic Fairyland pumpkins used to decorate your house, or the huge Orange ones specifically for displaying your Jack-o-lantern carving skills, or the really cute little mini pumpkins that look so pretty on your dinner tables or your produce basket! But when it comes to cooking with Pumpkins, the medium-sized Pie Pumpkins are the best. They are not only the perfect size, but much easier to cut and work with. We did pick up a few big ones for our pumpkin-carving heist this weekend, but that is a post for another day.
2 days ago, some real-estate consultant left a Pie Pumpkin at our doorstep, along with a clipping of pumpkin pie recipe, and of course, his business card. Nice promotional idea, I must say, because I’ll always remember him every time I cook a pumpkin! Anyways, till now, I always used store-bought Pumpkin puree or chunks, but now that I had a fine squash waiting on my counter-top to be sliced and chopped, I took up the challenge of actually cutting a Pumpkin for the first time in my life! And for those who don’t know, let me tell you that its no easy feat! There are a few tips and tricks involved though, to get through this act without much bruises and strain, so I’ll share those with you here, thinking it might help you when its time to try this for yourself at home!
How To Cut A Pumpkin – Tips & Techniques
Tip#1: Toss your pumpkin into a microwave for 1 minute. This makes it a bit softer to cut into, and also removes the raw taste in the gourd.
Tip#2: Use your biggest and strongest Chef’s knife to cut a pumpkin; don’t even attempt to try this with a regular knife
Tip#3: Unlike popular methods, I found out that chopping off the top and the stem of a pumpkin as shown below [[photo courtesy Matt Frazier]], just like you do for Jack-o-Lantern, and then slicing it into wedges works much better than directly cutting into it. So I will explain this method below.
Cutting a pumpkin will always be an intimidating task the first time. But with a few tricks and a nice tutorial to refer to, you’ll be on your way to becoming an expert in no time. I have included the video, courtesy of foodinanutshell, which helped me cut my pie pumpkin successfully; the best part about this method is that you can even extract the Pumpkin seeds with very less work, and use them later to make Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, an excellent snack full of nutrition.
Rinse the pumpkin under running water to remove any dirt. Cut the top of the pumpkin with a cutting knife or a carving knife, just like a Jack-o-lantern, and remove the top by cutting through at an angle. This is easier with less pressure on your hands. You can even trace a circle with a pencil on the top to help you with the cutting.
Remove the top and set it aside. Now, take a Chef’s knife, and cut the pumpkin vertically to make wedges. It is much easier to cut through in-between the seeds and strings.
Now cut off the top membrane of the strings, then run your hand through the strings to extract the Pumpkin seeds. You can roast them later as they are very good for health. If you do not want to use the seeds, then you can just use a scraper and just scoop out all the seeds and strings from the pumpkin.
Now cut each wedge into smaller pieces, then clean them by removing any excess strings or seeds.
Chop these into cubes if you want to bake them or roast them. Line them on a baking tray and put them in the oven; once done, you can use them in stews or roasted side dishes, or blend them to make your own Pumpkin puree.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YZmsF7rwPs?version=3]
Now that you know how to cut a Pumpkin, here are a few Pumpkin Recipes to get you started. Fresh pumpkin has a lot more flavor and is much more nutritious than canned stuff, so enjoy the Harvest season with some fresh organic produce, and a bunch of tasty recipes!