After four years of being unable to find canned or fresh pumpkin in this region, I was determined to search more vigorously this year, and finally found fresh, homegrown pumpkins in a cooler area of Iraq with more precipitation (Shaklawa)… So excited to finally have pumpkin pie with Thanksgiving again this year!
I was a little apprehensive as I set about making the first batch of purée. I’d heard that pie pumpkins or Cinderella pumpkins are the best varieties for baking, as larger, jack-o-lantern type pumpkins can leave a grainy, fiber-like texture and too much water. There’s only one type of pumpkin here, considerably larger than the “pie pumpkin,” but not as large as most jack-o-lantern pumpkins. They might not be baking specialty pumpkins, but they’ve turned out to have a great flavor and texture – even more appreciated since it’s been so long! I loved the smell of the baking pumpkin, and the purée, as you can see below, was not watery at all, even after leaving it standing or freezing and melting it. Maybe it’s because I baked it (it took about 75 minutes at 350 F), so I didn’t have to deal with any extra moisture from steaming or microwave methods, or maybe they just have less water in them to begin with because they’ve grown in a drier climate…
As you can see, I got three pumpkins, partly because I was so excited to find them, and partly because I’m new to cooking fresh pumpkin, so I wasn’t sure how much purée I would get from each one. It turned out that each one gives about 7-9 cups of purée, so after four years of pumpkin withdrawal, I now have so much pumpkin I don’t know what to do with it all! I’ll definitely be making enough baked goods to give some away, and will probably freeze a lot of purée to keep using it throughout the year. Needless to say, every time I open our freezer to see frozen ziplock baggies full of purée or glance toward the floor and see the remaining two pumpkins, I start thinking about recipe ideas. These are some I’ve found so far that I plan on making this season – some are old favorites; others are new ideas I want to try since I have enough purée to experiment with, and they look good!
(*This recipe calls for yellow cake mix, but I think it would also be pretty easy from scratch)
I’m hoping to have time over the next few months, between work, parenting, and everything else, to have time to make all of these. If any of you have other favorite pumpkin recipes, feel free to share. I’m guessing I have enough pumpkin (and hopefully enough time) to try more than what I’ve gathered already – spreading it out among all the other fall and Christmas treats I’m already starting to think of and look forward to!