You may recall that I recently posted about the great things you can do with canned pumpkin. There’s no denying that it’s the easiest way to use pumpkin in any recipe. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try cooking up your own pumpkin! In fact, I think it’s a skill worth learning, even if you don’t end up using it very often. So I guess knowing how to cook a pumpkin is a bit like pre-calculus or chemistry in that way. ;-)
Whether you found a great sale on locally-grown pumpkins, you grew your pumpkins yourself, or you just want to give it a try…there are definitely some good reasons to learn how to do it. And the best part is that it’s actually very easy! All you need is a few hours, a crockpot, and the perfect pumpkin.
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Choosing The Right Pumpkin
There are pumpkins that are good for making jack-o’-lanterns, and there are pumpkins that are good for baking. The pumpkins you’ll want to look for are sometimes called “pie pumpkins” or “sugar pumpkins.” They are smaller than you might expect, and have a sweeter flavor because the sugars are more concentrated. They also have the velvety smooth texture that makes for delicious pumpkin treats.
If you’re not sure if a pumpkin is right for baking, ask for your grocery store’s produce manager. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
How To Cook a Pumpkin In Your Crockpot
Step 1 – Wash
Wash the outside of your pumpkin with warm water and a stiff scrub brush. Take your time and make sure you get all the dirt and gunk off your pumpkin.
Step 2 – Prep
Once it’s clean, remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half down the center.
Remove the seeds (and save them for roasting, if you like.) Scoop out the stringy bits too, using a pumpkin scraping tool or a big spoon.
Step 3 – Cook
Place your pumpkin halves cut-side down in your crockpot. Put the lid on, and cook the pumpkin on high for 2-3 hours (or until a fork easily pierces the skin).
Allow the pumpkin plenty of time to cool off. When it’s cool enough to handle, scrape the pumpkin flesh away from the skin with a spoon.
Store fresh pumpkin flesh in an airtight container in your fridge for up to a week. If you’d rather freeze it, it will stay good for up to 6 months.
Using Your Homemade Pumpkin
Use fresh pumpkin just like you would use a can of pumpkin. You may want to puree it in a food processor or blender to make it easier to measure (or just to make it smooth and creamy.)