Pumpkin 101 - Baking a pumpkin

Pumpkin is usually precooked before being used in a dish. This can be accomplised in a number of ways, depending on the desired end dish. Pumpkin puree is commoonly used in recipes and to make pumpkin pie. You can make a puree by baking the pumpkin, either whole or in halves or wedges, then pureeing the pumpkin flesh in a food processor.

Remember the texture of the puree will depend on the type of pumpkin you use. Cooking pumpkins yield a finer texture, while carving pumpkins are more fibrous.

Baking a pumpkin is simple, and once it is baked it can be easily peeled, seeded and used. Place a whole pumpkin (3-4 pounds) on a baking sheet and put in a preheated 350 degree oven for around 1 1/2 hours. A sharp knife should easily pierce through the flesh. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let it cool. When cooled enough to handle, peel off the skin and cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and their fibers with a large spoon.

If your pumpkin is over 3-4 pounds, then you will need to cut or quarter it. To do this, use a sharp knife and start by the stem cutting into the seed cavity. Run the knive down the side of the pumpkin. Repeat on the other side. Scoop out the seeds and set aside or discard.

For halves, bake in a preheated 350 degree oven with cut sides down for roughly 40 minutes. For wedges, you can bake for 15-20 minutes.

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