How to Process Pumpkins for Your Pie – Part 1

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 40,137
    Chef Petra Cox shows you how to process pumpkins to make a pie, part 1.

    Petra Cox

    Petra is a specialty baker for Mom's Apple Pie Company, a family-run bakery with four locations in Northern Virginia. By the time she was born, the family business had been operating from their home for three years. Petra and her siblings grew up rolling crusts, peeling apples and baking pies with their parents from early on. In addition to bakery experience, Petra trained with family friend, Is Harris, making a variety of Thai cuisine from scratch, punctuating her culinary appreciation for both sweet and savory flavors and techniques. Subsequent training in oenology and cuisine both in Florence, Italy and Washington, DC led to her current position as wine buyer and recipe research and development at Mom's Apple Pie in Occoquan, Virginia.

    Petra Cox: Hi, I am Petra Cox from Moms Apple Pie Company in Occoquan, Virginia. Today I am showing you how to process pumpkin or squash from scratch, so that you can make pumpkin pies, pumpkin breads, and other pumpkin desserts.

    So, here I have, this is an amber cup pumpkin, it's actually a squash, biologically, but this makes a really excellent pumpkin pie and believe it or not, so does a butternut squash. Any time you might use a pumpkin in a dessert, you could also use butternut squash, and that gives it a really nice, bright orange color and a nice sweet flavor as well. It's almost more pumpkiny than pumpkin. So, to process your squash or your pumpkin, you are going to need a nice sharp knife and some pretty deep baking pan, and a little water. We are going to cook it in a 400 degree oven. So, to process the butternut squash, first, I am going to cut it, right before the bowl starts at the bottom. This way, you have the really meaty part at the top, and then the part at the bottom has a hollow area with the seeds. You can put the cut side down so it's really nice and steady, and then just cut straight down the middle. You can see that there are some seeds and some sort of pithy material on the inside there. That, you dont need to take out just yet, you can take that out after it's already been cooked, and you just put the cut side down on the bottom of an un-greased pan. Then for the top, you dont have to take the little stem off yet, only if you want to. You cut straight down the middle, and since this is not been cooked yet, of course it's really very kind of, hard to cut, so you got to use some force, sometimes you need to come at it from different angles. Again, you put the cut side down and as you can see with butternut squash, it's really nice to use because the top part is really full of meat, and there's nothing that you have to hollow out. It's just a lot; you've got about a cup of the pumpkin meat on each side. I know it sounds funny to use butternut squash in a pumpkin pie but it tastes really good. Here's our amber cup. It has that really bright, beautiful color on the outside, and you get these at really good wash down, because they grow in the dirt. We grow these ourselves on our farm, and we grow a variety, because it's nice to use a variety of different kinds of squash and pumpkins in a pie. So, this one, has a sort of, narrower side. It's going to take probably about a half of pumpkin to make a pumpkin pie. So, I cut that in half, and lay the cut side down and cut it again. I am going to lay it down in another pan, cut side down. This has some more seeds and other sort of foamy material on the inside that well scoop out when it's already been cooked. At this point, before putting it in the oven, you want to add some water, and it's probably about an inch of water on the bottom there. This is, so the pumpkin doesnt dry out and burn but you dont need to completely submerge the pumpkin. The water will sort of, steam up and evaporate in the oven and the level will go down but I must say, it really hits the bottom of the pan. You dont need to add more after you cook it. So, at this point, it takes probably about 45 minutes in a 375 degree to 400 degree oven to cook the pumpkin until it's nice and soft. The edges on the skin sometimes, theyll get a little burnt looking, but it's okay, because thats just the skin. About midway, probably about after 20 minutes, when you are using these pumpkin wedges, you can flip it over so that the other side is exposed to the water, and the side that was on the bottom of the pan is more exposed to the hot air in the oven. So, we are just going to throw these in the oven, and theyll be done in about 45 minutes.

    The next step, after they have been baked will be, to drain the water and let it cool off before you throw the pumpkin meat in the food processor. So, that is step one of processing a pumpkin from scratch for a nice pumpkin treat.