Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Preparing Perfect Pumpkin Purée & Pepitas ~ Recipes

'Tis officially pumpkin season, ladies and gents!  This makes for a very happy heart in yours truly.  We adore pumpkins around here: pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin scones, pumpkin pancakes...  Not to mention the zinc-rich pepitas!  Raw is how we take those good ol' pumpkin seeds.  Soaked and dehydrated first, if you please.  Actually, let me clarify.  Our all-time favorite (for both squash and seed) is the kabocha.  If you can get your hands on some, do give them a try.  Here's how we process our pumpkins (and kabochas):

First of all, turn on some music and light a fall-ish candle or two.  Make it a special seasonal moment.  (Before you know it, it'll turn into a yearly tradition.)  My playlist includes Turkey in the Straw, bluegrass-style.  There's the word "pumpkin" in it, and I like themes.  It streamlines my brain, I think.  Now, most recipes will tell you to use those cute lil' pie pumpkins.  They can sometimes have a darker color, and some say they're sweeter, but let's be honest.  Pretty much everything we make with pumpkin is sweetened, right?  This time around, I'm using a ten pounder and I've had great success with these beasts.  There are two ways I like to roast the meat, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?

Cut your pumpkin in half.  If it's a biggun like mine, cut each half into a few wedges or even into fourths.  Scrape the seeds and stringy guts out with a spoon and put them in a bowl.  Let's just keep them there for a minute.  We'll come back to you, lovely pepitas.

There are two ways to roast a pumpkin:

Oven-Roasted Pumpkins
  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Use the biggest glass pan you have (you may even need to use two), put about a cup of filtered water in the pan, place pumpkins flesh-down in the pan, and roast for about 1 hour or until you can stick a fork in it (hence the "fork" saying).
  • Allow to cool, then scoop flesh out with a spoon into a food processor and pulse a few times to purée.  You'll need to do this in a few batches.  Over-stuffing the food processor leads to liquifying the bottom half and leaving a chunky top half.  Store in glass mason jars.  It freezes well (though I'd like to can it one of these days; my freezer is about to erupt with bulk-bought grass-fed beef, bone broth, and berries).
Crock Pot Pumpkins
  • Turn slow cooker on high, add a little water, stuff pumpkin slices in, and cook for about 4 hours.
  • Allow to cool, then spoon into a food processor and pulse a few times to purée.  You'll need to do this in a few batches.  Over-stuffing the food processor leads to liquifying the bottom half and leaving a chunky top half. Store in mason jars.  Freezes well (but I want to can it, I tell you!)
My method of choice?

The oven.  It's faster and the pumpkin isn't as watery once it's cooked.

On to the Pepitas:

First, squeeze the seeds out of the membranes and into a colander (see pictures above).  I know that sounds gross, but it's really not.  I promise.  It's actually kinda therapeutic if you ask me.  Treat the chickens to the gooey stuff.  If you don't have chickens (I'm sorry), compost it along with the pumpkin skin and you'll give the earth a treat.  Rinse the pepitas.

Here's the deal.  I tried hulling a batch, thinking my family would appreciate them more, but I came to find out that they actually look forward to the salty, whole pepitas every year.  Well that is just fine with me.  Besides, I didn't have a good experience trying to hull them (I used this method).  Please let me know if you've had success with this operation.  I'd love to hear some tips.

The Riddle household pepita of choice is simply soaking them in a brine of water and about a tablespoon of Celtic sea salt overnight, draining them (don't rinse them), and then dehydrating them at 104º until crispy.  You can add seasoning to the brine if you'd like, like garlic powder, parsley flakes, onion powder, etc.  But my family is full of purists when it comes this, so I stick with just the salt.



  1. My stomach is rumbling - I just love pumpkin seeds - I can't wait to try your method of soaking/dehydrating! I plan on canning my pumpkins this year (don't hate me - its my new hobby!)

  2. You are so great at writing the exact post I need at the exact time I need it! :)

    Thanks friend!

    We're off to gut our cute lil' pumpkin...

  3. Ok, bluegrass is on. Alyma is dancing. I already froze my 17 cups of puree and my seeds are done soaking. No dehydrator, though. :( A warm oven will have to do.

  4. Thank you for this! I always wondered what Pepitas were and now I know.
    What sort of dehydrator do you use? Right now all I make is jerky and I can do that in the oven.

  5. I use an Excalibur dehydrator and LOVE it.

  6. Thanks, Katie. I've gone back and forth over whether to get a dehydrator or not, and this makes me really want one.
    Much appreciated!

  7. I'm so glad I read this. I've always used the small pie pumpkins and never thought that I could use the meat from the larger ones! Thanks to you, now I know :-)

    You're welcome to link this up to a “PUMPKIN” link up that we are hosting today! It fits in perfectly!

  8. Andrea @ Frugally SustainableNovember 15, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Uh! I dont know what happened here, lol?

  9. Hi Katie,
    I have a question about the pepitas; we don't own a food dehydrator - hubby says there's not enough space in the kitchen :0( - but do have a large, shelved, boiler room where we dry all our laundry. I've successfully dried thin apple slices in there.
    Do you think I could dehydrate the seeds in there?
    Is 104 an exact temperature or will anywhere warm and dry do?

  10. Hi! We keep it to 104º to keep the enzymes alive. Anything higher begins to kill them, but you can totally heat them higher.

  11. I'm pretty sure the room is less than 104, I was more worried that they wouldn't dry. However, after 4 days in there, they are crisp and delicious. Thank you!

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