Where did we get the name pumpkin, when the genus name for it is cucurbita? Wikipedia says the Greek word for it is pepon. The French called it a pompon. The name pumpkin came from our own North American colonists. I like to imagine them, hungry and lean, making the most of their scarce resources as a cold winter set in…then seeing the whopping big, colorful fruits growing unmolested in a dark, bare field…MMMM! Food! Big food!
Oh, it’s one of the grossest vegetarian things to do as a pastime, slicing open a pumpkin. It reminds me of a u…u…never mind, I can’t say it. Lots of people just cut on them to make grotesque jack-o-lanterns, then throw the beaten, sliced and diced, candle wax-burned carcass away. Almost every year though, I try to put aside my feelings of utter revulsion and process one myself and put it in the freezer and savor its outrageous nutrition, straight from the earth to me.
The cats had to jump up and see what was going on with this giant fruit, the same color as their holy grail favorite, cantaloupe. It turned out to be not the same for them. I gave them some catnip-flavored cat treats and they stopped bothering me for a while though.
The Ball Blue book recommends freezing pumpkin flesh rather than canning it. So I steamed a bunch of the pumpkin chunks, and I also roasted a small batch to see if they might do for some recipes later on. Then, when they were fork tender, I peeled the rind off and slid the chunks into freezer bags. I also roasted the seeds, picked clean of their slimy fibrous entrails, sprayed with canola oil cooking spray and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Just a little research shows pumpkin and seeds and oil from the seeds to be loaded with nutrition: fiber, vitamins, minerals. So incredibly good!
It doesn’t take long to roast the seeds, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Steaming the pumpkin flesh takes a good while, depending on the size of your steamer and the size of the pompon. Huge=a long time in the kitchen.
And the final result of all this work is the pumpkin bread. You may want to puree the pumpkin before putting it in bread or a pie, in case there are some stringy parts. I’ve found the home-processed pumpkin to be a bit more yellow than the darkish orange Libby’s in the can.