Sugar pumpkins are meant for cooking and pie-making; their flesh is firm and sweet, not stringy and watery like the jack-o'-lantern pumpkins we carve for the front step for Halloween night.
These little beauties grew more successfully in the straw bale garden than zucchini or Boston marrow. I had a yield of ten pumpkins from two plants.
Emily Han, one of the writers at thekitchn.com describes two ways to freeze winter squash. To prepare raw squash, "peel and cut the squash into chunks of any size; 1-inch cubes are a good size," Emily writes. "Spread the pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer. When completely frozen, transfer the squash to a freezer-safe container with 1/2-inch headspace to allow for food expansion. Frozen chunks may be added directly to stews or into the oven for roasting, or thawed before using."
Emily says to consider the size of the squash or pumpkin when preparing to cook it. "Depending on the size, cut it in halves, cubes, or slices. Cook it by roasting, steaming, or boiling. Remove the skins and mash the squash. When cool, pack it into freezer containers with 1/2-inch headspace – or freeze in ice cube trays or muffin tins and then transfer to a container. The creamy squash puree may be used in lasagnas, soups, dips, and more."
One thing she doesn't mention ... after cutting open the pumpkin, remove the seeds and pulpy membrane before cooking, but do save the seeds. Roast them too.
The roasting method is the one I like best. The Kitchn editor Faith Durand says, "Cut the cleaned pumpkin into quarters and place them pumpkin side up, rind down, in a baking dish. Bake at 350ºF for 45-60 minutes. Scrape off the flesh and whiz through a food processor until smooth. After the the pumpkin has been pureed, it will stay good in the fridge for up to three days. It can also be frozen for several months."
Now could this post be complete without a recipe? Make this soup with sugar pumpkin or a sweet squash.
Pumpkin Harvest Soup
You will need:
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks, white part only, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced or grated
1 cup thinly sliced or diced carrots
1-1/2 tbsp grated ginger
3 cups pumpkin/squash, diced in 1/2 in cubes
s, if available
3 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme (optional)
1-1/2 cups 2% or whole milk (light cream if preferred)
1/4 cup dry white wine (essential)
In a large pot, melt butter and cook onion and leeks until softened, but not browned. Stir in ginger. Add potato, carrots, pumpkin/squash and parsnips, if using. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in stock, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. until vegetables are tender. Let cool somewhat, then puree in food processor or blender until very smooth.Return soup to saucepan (The soup can be prepared ahead to this point, covered and refrigerated. Reheat before continuing with the recipe.)
Stir in milk or cream to desired consistency. Stir in wine and heat until very hot, but do not boil. season with sale and pepper to taste. Garnish with chives, croutons or grated cheese.
Like Halloween, my straw bale garden is long gone.
The bales have broken down as they continue to compost. Soon they will be a different growing medium – more soil than straw.
Next year they will form the main input for a more conventional raised garden, but there will be a straw garden too.
This experiment has made me a convert.
Want to grow pumpkins? You can purchase organic Small Sugar Pumpkin seeds from William Dam Seeds, Dundas, ON.