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Preserving Pumpkin and Using the Seeds

Hello friends! This morning I am baking a few of the sugar pie pumpkins that were grown here on our farm. What I love about this task is that there is minimal waste as the various parts of the pumpkin will go toward a variety of uses.  Let me show you:

On the cookie sheet I've placed the cut and cleaned pumpkins.  The cookie sheet is lined with parchment paper to make clean-up easier.   The pumpkin pieces will bake at 400 degrees for 30-60 minutes (until fork-tender).  Then the pumpkin can be easily scooped from the skin and put into the food processor.  I'll then freeze it in one-cup portions to be used in a variety of recipes this fall and winter.

When I was a little girl, my dad made a special serrated knife that I still use to cut pumpkin.  It's made from the drill bit of an old saw; he attached a handle to it.  You can find a similarly styled knife nowadays in a pumpkin carving kit. I love the little knife from my dad - I feel like a child carving a pumpkin for Halloween whenever I use it.

As I scooped out and cleaned the pumpkins, I sorted out the seeds.  A small amount of the seeds will dry on a paper towel and then will be stored away for growing more pumpkins in next year's garden.  Incidentally, I've started writing on the paper towel what the seeds are, as I had a perplexing mix-up with Costata Romanesco Zucchini and Cocozelle Zucchini seeds a couple months ago. I saved only one of these zucchini varieties because I was late in deciding to do so, and now unfortunately I don't remember which variety they are.  Now the only way to find out is to grow them next year and wait for the fruit to produce. It will be a surprise.

Another tip I learned about saving seeds is that the seeds need to be stored where pets can't reach them.  I made the mistake of setting some drying Blue Ballet Hubbard Squash seeds on the bottom rack of my gardening shelf.  The seeds came from an organic squash half that I purchased from Sunny Farms grocery store, as my own Blue Ballet bit the dust when a nasty Mountain Beaver Goblin Mouse got to it.  When our dog Mojo ate the seeds from the purchased squash, it pretty much confirmed that Blue Ballet is doomed in my house this year.  I'll have to purchase a package of seeds for next year.  Fortunately, nothing bad happened to the dog despite having eaten about 30 giant squash seeds. I wasn't sure it would work out okay.

The remaining bowl of pumpkin seeds have been rinsed in a strainer.  I'm going to soak them in lightly salted water and then later today I'll strain and dry them off on a paper towel.  Then, I'll put them on a cookie sheet, coat them with a little olive oil, and roast them in a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until they are crispy and very lightly browned.  What seasonings should I put on them?

Lastly, there remains a pumpkin treat that will go to the chickens.  Included in their treat are the rest of the pumpkin innards and the tops of the pumpkins.  Also, once the pumpkin pieces have finished baking and I've processed the flesh into puree, I will add the cooked pumpkin skins to the chicken treat bowl.

There! No wasted pumpkin and overall a fairly easy task.  My house smells like lovely pumpkin.  And we'll have organic, home-grown pumpkin prepped and in the freezer for a variety of recipes.