It is that time of year to celebrate all the wonderful things about fall including hot Idaho apple cider made by Williamson’s Orchard, Idaho apple butter, pumpkin carving, roasted pumpkin seeds, and of course homemade pumpkin pie.
It is the perfect time of year to head out to the pumpkin patch and pick out your own Jack-O-Lantern to carve. The Berry Ranch is open and ready for you to come visit them. For hours and information visit www.theberryranch.com. Wissel Farms also has Idaho pumpkins available. You can either visit their pumpkin patch or they have some ready for you at their onsite farm stand. If you don’t have time to visit the farm then Idaho pumpkins are available at farmers market, roadside stands, Wal-mart, Albertson’s, Boise Co-Op, Whole Foods and Paul’s.
Once you have your perfect pumpkins carved don’t just throw away all those seeds! Pumpkin seeds make a great snack. All you have to do is rinse the pumpkin seeds making sure to get rid of all the strings and pulp. Then mix in a tablespoon of butter for every cup of seeds and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 325* for 30 minutes or until they are nice and crisp. Make sure to check them frequently because they can burn quickly.
Also, available right now are pie pumpkins. Pumpkin puree is easy to make and tastes so much better than canned pumpkin. Baking pumpkins are very different than your carving pumpkin so if you aren’t sure which is which make sure to ask. Baking pumpkins are small with thick fine pulp and when baked, mash easily and have a buttery tasting flesh. Some common names you might see are Pick-A-Pie, Baby Bear or Sugar Pie varieties. These small varieties weigh 4-6 pounds and will yield 1 ½ – 2 cups of pumpkin puree.
To make delicious pumpkin puree that can be used in all recipes that call for canned pumpkin simply bake, peel and mash these small sweet pumpkins. First, wash and cut pumpkin in half. Remove seeds and stringy matter. Again don’t through away those seeds! Cut each half again to speed baking time if desired. Lay pumpkin pieces face down on shallow baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake in 375° oven for 1.5 – 2 hours until flesh can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove pan from oven and allow pumpkin pieces to cool. Remove skin and mash or puree the flesh with potato masher or in food processor. Pumpkin puree can be used immediately in pies, breads, cookies or soup but make sure to bake extra to freeze for Thanksgiving Day dessert! Try this delicious Pumpkin Trifle featured in the Idaho Preferred Cookbook.