When you’ve grown lots of baking/cooking pumpkins, you find lots of ways to use the flesh…and the seeds. I love this recipe because it uses both the pumpkin flesh and the seeds.
This pumpkin granola is soooo flipping delicious. It never lasts more than a couple of days in our house and the house smells absolutely wonderful as it’s baking. It’s fantastic to snack on plain, eat as cereal or sprinkle on yogurt or ice cream.
If you are using your own pumpkin puree and haven’t seen my post on how to puree fresh pumpkin, you can find it here.
6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (“quick” variety is NOT recommended for this recipe)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) Butter OR 4 tablespoons Butter + ¼ cup Coconut Oil OR ½ cup Coconut Oil
1 cup Nuts, coarsely chopped. Suggested: pecans, walnuts, almonds, pinons or blend recommended
1 cup plain, lightly toasted seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, etc. or a blend)
1/2 cup Maple Syrup OR Honey
1/2 cup Pumpkin
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ginger (optional—if you don’t like ginger leave it out)
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/8 teaspoon ground Cloves (optional—if you don’t like cloves leave it out)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Combine all dry ingredients (oats, nuts, seeds), Cinnamon, Ginger, Ground Cloves and Sea Salt in an X-large mixing bowl. Stir and mix well until all dry ingredients are evenly distributed. Set aside.
Melt butter (or butter/coconut combo or coconut oil) until just melted and pour into small mixing bowl. Add remaining wet ingredients (maple syrup or honey and pumpkin) and mix well making sure the mixture is evenly combined and smooth.
Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients. Stir and mix well, making sure wet ingredients are evenly distributed and coating all the dry ingredients.
Divide mixture evenly between two regular size baking sheets (or one extra large baking sheet if you have it).
Bake in 250 degree oven for approximately 2 hours, stirring every 20 – 30 minutes. If you prefer chunkier granola, be more gentle and leave larger chunks when stirring.
When time is up, remove from oven.
Cool completely, stirring periodically.
Once completely cooled, this granola should store quite well in an air tight container for up to a couple weeks (not entirely sure as it never lasts that long in our house).
To this day I have a vivid memory from when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Our neighbor lady up the country road told my mother she had made her own pumpkin puree and it was just HORRIBLE! She told my mother not to ever bother wasting her time growing or making her own pumpkin puree for pies, etc.
I have no idea what method or what kind of pumpkin that lady used in her attempt. I suspect it was not a baking type. Who knew there were different types?
I was just a kid back then. So yes, I’m sorry to say that cooking tidbit stuck with me for nearly 50 years! And even as a pumpkin lover, I never questioned it. That’s right, every year (until this one) I have purchased the canned stuff (which is fine if that’s all you have access to–I’m not judging anyone). But seriously, HOW silly of me not to push a little harder and try things for myself?!
Fast forward 47 years +/- and here I am growing my own heirloom baking pumpkins. And YES! I use them to make my own puree for pies, pancakes, cakes, breads, scones, soups/stews and so much more! I can’t even believe how easy it is to do. Or how delicious it is compared to the store-bought stuff in a metal can.
After I did it the first time, I had a face-palm moment. HOW on earth could I not allow myself to try this sooner? Sheesh!
Well…I absolutely adore growing these pumpkins because we use the ENTIRE thing. Nothing is wasted. At all. The skins get chopped up, simmered and fed to the chickens; the stringy guts also get fed to the chickens. Did I mention that my chickens LOVE pumpkins?
Even the seeds are used. The seeds get cleaned. Some of them get saved for planting next year. The rest get brined, roasted and seasoned for a delicious, nutritious snack OR saved roasted and unseasoned in an airtight container to be used in making granola, etc. Be sure to check out next week’s post on roasting pumpkin seeds and making pumpkin granola (it uses puree and seeds)!
Even the hard stem goes into the compost.
Part 1: Choose, Clean, Cut, Roast, Puree–>Then Use or Freeze!
You’ll want to choose a nice baking style pumpkin which is usually going to be about the size of a volleyball OR SMALLER. Giant pumpkins are tempting, but they are not ideal for the flavor profile you want in a baking/cooking pumpkin. Look for heirloom “sugar pie” or “baking” types. If you have a local farm store or farmers’ market, that’s often a great source. Plus, supporting your local growers helps keep your food producer in business and a strong food supply chain close to you. That’s especially important these days, right?
Once you’ve chosen your pumpkin and you’re ready to make some puree, give it a good rinse, clean and pat it dry. Place it on your cutting board. Poke your knife into the top at one side of the stem and carefully cut down the outside curve until you reach the center bottom. Pull the knife out. Turn the pumpkin and repeat on the opposite side of the stem, cutting until you reach the bottom center and the pumpkin split is complete, except for the stem. Please don’t try to cut the stem, it will ruin your knife. Set your knife aside, insert a finger or two inside the split at the bottom. Use both hand to grasp each side of the pumpkin bottom and pull it apart. The stem should snap right off from one side or the other at the top.
Place one half in a colander and scrape out the seeds and guts. Repeat with the other side. SAVE your seeds!
While your pumpkin is roasting, you can clean the seeds to roast separately. If you have chickens, they will love the stringy guts. If not, the guts are great to compost along with the stem (and skins after roasting).
Now let’s get roasting. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle the inside flesh lightly with salt. NOTE: The salt is optional, so if you don’t want it, can’t have it or don’t like it, don’t use it! Place flesh side down on your parchment lined baking sheet. Depending on the size of your pumpkin(s) and your oven, you’ll roast them anywhere from approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour +/-. You’ll know the pumpkin is done when the skin is golden, wrinkly and you can easily pierce the pumpkin all the way through in several places with your knife.
The pumpkins below are done and cooling.
Once the pumpkin is cool and able to be touched, flip over and scoop the soft flesh into your food processor. Process/puree until pumpkin is smooth.
You can use the puree now, save it in a sealed container in your refrigerator for up to about a week OR freeze it. It lasts in the freezer for 3 – 6 months (or more)!
Here you can see the load of frozen pumpkin I made from our early harvest in September (because it SNOWED the Wednesday after Labor Day 2020). I’ve made a bunch more since then and I still have over 50 pumpkins to process. Thankfully, they are very good keepers and I can work on them a few at a time.
How about you? Have you ever made your own pumpkin puree before? I’d love to hear about it. Tell me about your pumpkin puree making experiences in the comments below.
Note: In order to protect our readers from nasty spam, I have to approve all comments. Sometimes it takes me a while to get to that. I promise I will read and approve all legitimate, constructive comments.
Tis the season for zucchini. LOTS and LOTS of zucchini. This year, after several bountiful harvests, I was inspired to create a Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread to help use up some of the “bounty”. Needless to say, it has been one of the most popular things I’ve ever made with Zucchini. Jeff asked me to make at least 10 more loaves to put in the freezer–yes, it freezes fabulously.
Recipe yields 2 loaves
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (or coconut oil)
1.5 cups brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3.25 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
OPTIONAL INGREDIENT: 1 teaspoon espresso powder OR instant coffee. NOTE: Espresso powder OR instant coffee is OPTIONAL – but this ingredient adds another level of subtle, uniquely rich deliciousness. You can purchase espresso powder or make your own if you wish. There are lots of instructions online for how to make your own espresso powder. Choose your favorite browser and search away.
4 cups shredded zucchini, packed (a little extra is OK)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate chips or milk chocolate chips, your preference)
1 cup white chocolate chips
Prepare 2 loaf pans using your preferred method. (I use non-stick spray or butter depending on what I have on hand.)
Preheat oven to 350.
Melt butter until just barely melted (microwave or stovetop methods are both fine). Pour melted butter into a large bowl. Use a whisk, fork or wooden spoon to add brown sugar and stir well until the mixture is smooth. Stir in eggs, adding one at a time until each one is well incorporated. NOTE: Do NOT add eggs before combining butter and brown sugar. Once you have combined the butter and brown sugar, make sure your butter/sugar mixture has cooled enough so that it does NOT cook the eggs. Stir in vanilla. Is everything evenly combined and smooth? If not, stir gently until it is.
In a medium size bowl, add all dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and espresso powder/ instant coffee. Use a fork or whisk to evenly combine all dry ingredients.
Pour dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients. Stir with wooden spoon or spatula until all ingredients are evenly combined but do not “over” stir. This mixture will be quite thick. Add zucchini, chocolate chips and white chips. Stir with wooden spoon or spatula just until evenly mixed.
Divide batter into the prepared loaf pans. Bake for 55 – 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean and batter-free. Note: melted chocolate chips can/will stick to the toothpick even if the loaf is done so pay close attention if your toothpick does not appear to be clean.
Allow loaves to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before turning them onto a cooling rack.
The bread tastes delicious when warm; but be advised that slicing it before it has completely cooled may result in lots of crumbling!
These LOAVES FREEZE very well and are good for up to 3 months or so. If you want to freeze your loaf/loaves, allow to cool completely then wrap snugly in plastic wrap then either place in a freezer bag and press out air or wrap foil securely over the plastic wrap.