Monday, September 29, 2014

Fresh Pumpkin Puree

Not at all like the canned pumpkin you can buy in the store, fresh pumpkin puree is the color of butternut or acorn squash. The darkening of the pumpkin puree happens when the spices are added to it.

Every Fall I like to buy some small to medium-sized baking pumpkins from the farmers market and cook them for the fresh puree. I also keep the pumpkin seeds to roast as a healthy snack, which my grandsons love.

Did you know? It is one of the very low calorie vegetables. 100 g fruit provides just 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. 

The vegetable is one of the food items recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.

Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E. With 7384 mg per 100 g, it is one of the vegetables in the Cucurbitaceae family featuring highest levels of vitamin-A, providing about 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help a body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers.

It is also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as α, ß carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin. Carotenes convert into vitamin A inside the body.

Zea-xanthin is a natural anti-oxidant which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the macula lutea in retina of the eyes. Thus, it helps protect from "age-related macular disease" (ARMD) in the elderly.

The fruit is a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.
It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

Scoop out seeds

2 small to medium sized baking pumpkins
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tops from pumpkins and split each one in half. Scoop out seeds, reserving seeds to roast if desired.  

Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place pumpkins cut side down on baking sheet. Pour 1/2 cup water onto baking sheet and place in the oven.

Roast pumpkins approx. 30 minutes, or until the outer rind is soft and a cooking fork pierces it easily. 

Remove from oven.  Using a large spatula, remove pumpkins from baking sheet and turn over to cool.

Once cool enough to handle, scrape the baked pumpkin puree from the rind; discard rind.

If using immediately, store pumpkin puree in the refrigerator several days or up to one week. For long-term storage, place 2 cups pumpkin puree into small freezer containers and freeze. Keeps well up to one year.
Use fresh pumpkin puree in place of plain canned pumpkin in your favorite recipes.

Yield:  6 cups



© Cooking with Mary and Friends Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.