Thursday, October 8, 2009

What To Do With A Cheap Pumpkin


There was a giant bin of pumpkins at Walmart for $4.50. We get a 10% discount on fresh produce because my husband works there. I didn't shop around for the price of pumpkins because I got too excited. I poked around for the biggest one I could find, 14 lbs 5 oz. Yeah, I weighed it right there at Walmart, running back and forth with the biggest looking pumpkins from the scale to the bin. Had I dug deeper, I may have found a bigger one, but I am happy with my pumpkin.

Our driveway is being repaved, so we have to park on the side of the road. You can bet my husband was glad I found the biggest pumpkin for him to carry up an extra flight of stairs.

So, I chopped the pumpkin in half. I had heard different takes on removing the skin. Some suggested a peeler, others a large knife. Those both seemed extremely tedious. So I thought, it must be like potatoes, where if you boil it, the skin would come off more easily. I was right. It was more work to peel than a boiled potato, but less work than carving off all of the peel. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I cut the pumpkin into chunks and threw it into my massive bean pot, but only half of the pumpkin would fit in at a time, so I had to do it in shifts. I had it on the stove for somewhere around 40 minutes because it took so long to get it boiling.

While the first batch boiled, I started sorting through the seeds and stringy innards. I actually put the stringy innards in with the second batch to boil. I couldn't help thinking of the Native Americans. What did they do with the stringy innards? Did they throw them to the birds, or make use of them. With what I was planning on doing with my pumpkin, stringy innards wouldn't make a difference.

Many people salt and bake the seeds. Besides me not being too fond of ovens, I looked up raw pumpkin seeds and saw they have a nutritional benefit. They are a nutrient dense seed, but they are also a great way to attack intestinal parasites and worms, if you have that problem. They won't kill the parasites, but they will stun them. You are to eat the pumpkin seeds with a laxative to flush out the stunned parasite. Interesting. I'm skipping the laxative myself; the raw pumpkin seeds are yummy.

Now, I have a large bowl of mushy pumpkin chunks. What am I to do with them?

My kids are eating them as is. Daniel especially is eating these like they are candy. He keeps asking for more and picks out his own chunk. He goes for the massive ones. I love pumpkin, but not plain. I won't stop him though, or tell him that most people only eat pumpkin in sugary desserts.

Milk shakes. I'm eating the milkshakes I usually make for my husband. Here's a quick recipe for the blender.

2 ice cubes

3/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon stevia (or 1/4 c sugar)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (one or two mushy chunks)

1 teaspoon vanilla

A new "carrot bread." I'm taking the same carrot bread recipe and adding pumpkin instead of carrots. It is so good, and a little easier now that all of the pumpkin work is behind me.

I haven't figured out how to get my pie pan into my crock pot. I haven't tried really. I'll let you know if I do a crock pot pumpkin pie.

After the skin and top were removed, I had about 13 pounds of pumpkin. That brings the total cost per pound of pumpkin to be $0.31. This will not be the last pumpkin I buy. We're going through the pumpkin chunks so fast that it is not worth mashing and freezing them, but that will be my plan with subsequent pumpkins.


Bubblej said...

Where I come from pumpkins are eaten as a savoury food, not a sweet! That cool that your son likes it as is, building healthy habits!

Scottish Twins said...


::runs out to buy a pumpkin::

Jenny said...

Generally speaking I think that smaller pumpkins are better for eating. If you get one that is pretty small you can wash it, dry it off, and put the entire thing into your crockpot and roast until soft. Then you can easily cut it open, the skin will peel right off and you can scoop out the flesh. It's the only way I cook pumpkin anymore.

Anyhow, smaller pumpkins are really the way to go.

Pam said...

My neighbor blessed us with two large pumpkins from his garden. I scooped out the seeds, cut them into large chunks, and baked them in the oven. Then I scooped out the meat, pureed it, and dividided it into 2 cup portions to freeze. From what I read, a can of pumpkin is the equivalent of 2 cups, so having it in that size will make it easy to use in recipes that call for a can of pumpkin.

Pretty soon, sweet potatoes will go on sale super cheap. Yummy and healthy!

Carla said...

I love pumpkin. I have 7 I got for between 75 cents and $2 grown locally. I love pumpkin soup and pumpkin custard (basically like a pie but cooked without the crust). I usually bake them to cook; I will be able to bake 4 pumpkins cut up at a time then I will freeze (well, except the one the kids will be cutting up for Halloween; that was the $2 one). We love the seeds roasted best of all so it's worth it for us to bake 'em.

Captain Cleavage said...

Emily I have a recipie for crock pot pumpkin pie somewhere and as soon as I find it I will email it to you. My pie plate doest fit into my new one BUT I did figure out if you get the smaller disposable pie plates they fit perfectly (I belive our crocks oour the same size and shape...I belive)

Also have you tried sun drying the pumpkin seeds? (although I don't know how if this would work in colder climates...) We usually just wash them really well and then spread them on a cookie sheet coverd with aluminum foil (so as not to attract ants and critters)for between 45 min to 2 hours (depending on the number of seeds)and they come out vuuuuury yummy!

Do you guys do any type of decorationg with punkins? I'm not sure if you celebrate halloween BUT my mom used to get a pumpkin and carve things like turkeys in them and then use it to make food afterwards. Just a suggestion :)

Culinary Science Investigator said...

I often bake a pumpkin pie in a regular cake pan if I run out of pie tins. Actually, one of my favorites is to bake it in a 9x13 cake pan for Thanksgiving, so I wouldn't worry about trying to fit your pie pan in your crockpot. Just use the pan you know is working in there.

And while I will concur with Jenny that smaller pumpkins are less stringy, I know you're picking size for your money. But she's also right about the roasting. I'd chunk up your pumpkin and throw it in the crockpot. It's going to be nice and naturally sweet, the skin will just fall off, and you won't be losing nutrients in the water. You'll notice a big difference in your milkshake, trust me.

Devon said...

Yum, I love pumpkins. I have been toying with the idea of not just tossing mine that we carve and actually using it, though by the time we get to them after Halloween I think it would be too late. Can you cut up other types of pumpkins? I have a Fairytale one we won't carve...

Anonymous said...

In the name of frugality, I am skipping the $4.50 pumpkin from Wal-Mart this year---because all I do is set it on my porch steps for decoration! ;-)

Rapunzel's Room said...

Those big suckers aren't usually very tasty!

Anonymous said...

My mom brought me home a 50+ pound pumpkin a couple of years ago...someone left it at her work. I realize it probably wasn't an "eating" pumpkin - but I didn't care!

I chopped it up, cooked it, cooked the seeds. I made a BUNCH of puree and froze them in ziplock baggies (1 c each). I added the puree to EVERYTHING - soups, spaghetti sauce, muffins, biscuits, etc.

Our favorite was a pumpkin smoothie - somewhat similar to your milkshake...they are AWESOME, huh? :)

Enjoy your score!

Carol said...

You can make great soup with pumpkin that's perfect for winter. Any winter squash recipe will work, and you could adapt Tanzanian vegetable soup and throw that in.

Virginia said...

to comment on Mary Bailey- skipping the $4.50 decoration to save money

I wait until after halloween and go and buy one of the fake realistic looking pumpkins for really cheap. I think the one I have used for 4 years was only $5. I know that I could have saved the $5, but I love fall decorations!

Snork Maiden said...

A recipe for pumpkin ..stuff:

Boil chunks in milk or water, add milk later. Simultaneously cook rice or another grain of choice, rice works well. Mash the pumpkin when done, mix the pumpkin mix with milk, with rice, add cinnamon, stevia, vanilla if want. It's a mashed potato consistency dish that can be eaten on its own. Eliminating sweetener and vannilla it is just as good a savoury dish.


Anonymous said...

This is a tried and true recipie that my family LOVES! And it is crockpot friendly :)

1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup biscuit/baking mix
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
whipped topping

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Transfer to a slow cooker coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees F. Serve in bowls with whipped topping if desired.

Jen said...

Have you tried a local orchard? Here you can buy pumpkins at the local apple orchard/pumpkin farm for much cheaper, and they are fresh, plus it's greener to buy local.

Also an unrelated question for you to think about for your FAQ. You don't have to answer now but I do hope to see a future post on it. How exactly do you plan to budget in homeschooling? It's easy when they are little. I homeschooled my own girls for a number of years on library resources and walmart workbooks. Eventually though, if you want your kids to have any kind of shot at college you are looking at spending some money. I spent $62 this year just on books, and that is only because I got them used, and I already owned half the ones (the more expensive ones at that) that I needed, and I only have two kids.

Homeschooled kids also don't have access to school sports. Have you considered that in your future planning at all? Music? Art?

Anonymous said...

I agree that it is sooo easy to throw the chunks in the crockpot with a little water. When done, just use a spooon to scoop the pulp out of the shell. I freeze my extras in quart size bags to use in recipes later. Pumpkin puree also makes a great baby food!

Anonymous said...

Off topic - wanted to send you this link for books.
Some of the old classics are here and are still a great read.
Good luck in all your efforts.

I enjoy your blog... except for the placenta thing. I'm still reading though.

Paloma said...

A much more credible reference in regards to pumpkin seeds combating parasites might have been this, from the American Pharmaceutical Association's Practical Guide to Natural Medicines, available on Google Books (converted to TinyURL because the comment box is not allowing me to paste the long link):

Anonymous said...

You can get them much cheaper from local farms/orchards. The big ones don't taste very good but the little ones are delicious.

MissMeliss said...

You all are making me want to go buy a pumpkin and cook it!!! :) YUM.


Emily said...

I'm definitely going to cook it in the crock pot next time. And I'll be looking at some farm stands, too. As I said, I didn't price shop as I got too excited. I looked at the little ones and they were way more expensive, and I'm happy with how the big ones taste.

Paloma, thanks for the link on the parasites.

Jen, I will be adding that to my FAQ. I think I have one that covers some of it, but none on my homeschool budget.

Treva said...

I buy pumpkins (2 usually, 3 sometimes) every year so that DD can carve one and paint another one and I salvage the meat in my slow cooker. If you can find them, get a hubbard squash. It's big, green and ugly, but the flesh is just like a pumpkin -- except darker and richer in flavor. At least that's been my opinion. I've been able to find one somehow or another for the past 2 years and the bigger farmer's market about 4 miles from me just got them in. They're HUGE and 25 cents a pound. I'm going back in a week or 2 and try to find a smaller one and mix that puree with my pumpkin puree.

Between my shredded zucchini and my pumpkin/hubbard puree I will be set on baking goods for all of winter!!! So excited!

Anonymous said...

Dh was just reading somewhere that you can pretty much substitute squash (butternut, etc) for any of the yellow/orange vegetables. We often do squash pie (from local grower) instead of pumpkin. But as you discovered, you can even substitute pumpkin/squash for carrots in cake, bread, etc.

Anonymous said...

I need to ad pumpkin to my dog's diet so this has been interesting. I will be trying the crockpot today!

Krista Marvin said...

Pumpkins where I live run about $15 for a somewhat large one and $10 for a small one! I bought two anyway and am cooking them up now. One in a crock pot and one in the oven.

Henrietta said...

Definitely give it a try in the crock pot next time. I just cooked up three sugar pumpkins--one baked in the oven (my usual method), one slow cooked in the crock pot, and one boiled on the stove. The slow cooked one was the most flavorful; the boiled one was bland in comparison.

I'm going to use the three batches to make three loaves of pumpkin bread to get feedback on which method tastes best when baked in a recipe. I'm glad you posted this because I had never heard of using a crock pot for pumpkin, and it appears it may be the best way to go!

DABramwell said...

For those of you planning on carving a pumpkin, using it to decorate and then eating it, don't. Once carved and exposed to air for several hours pumpkin can play host to several types of fungi and bacteria most of which are invisible and many of which produce toxins that will linger even after the pumpkin is cooked. As painful as it is, throw out the decorated pumpkin and buy one specifically for eating.

Simple in France said...

I just saw this post--I love pumpkins and am always looking for more ideas. As for the pie in the crock pot, could you just put it directly in the pot? Or would the crust not get 'crusty?'

Emily said...

Simple in France, I "bake" in the crock pot a lot. Round cake pans fit in the crock pot when you take out the ceramic part, so the edges wouldn't have the slope of regular pie, but otherwise it would be the same.

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