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How to Prepare Pumpkin

Pumpkins are great for carving and displaying, but they're also good to eat. Here's how to prepare it.

How to make pumpkin purée:

Set pumpkin on a large, secured cutting board. Use a long knife to carefully cut it in half. Scrape off the stringy material and seeds attached to the walls of the pumpkin with a large metal spoon. Cut each half piece of pumpkin in half again. Save the seeds for roasting, if desired.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the pumpkin pieces, skin-side down, in a large roasting pan (or two if very large). Pour in one inch of water, tightly cover and bake 2 to 2¾ hours, or until very tender.

When cool enough to handle, remove the pumpkin peel and purée the flesh in a food processor. If your purée is watery, spoon it into a wide, non-stick skillet and stir it over moderate heat until the excess water evaporates and the purée is thick as canned pumpkin.

Cool the purée to room temperature before using in such things as soups, sauces and baked goods. You could also freeze the pumpkin for another time.

To make cubes or wedges of fresh pumpkin:

If you need pieces of fresh pumpkin for a recipe, clean and quarter the pumpkin as noted above. Now cut the pumpkin into smaller wedges. You could roast those smaller wedges of pumpkin, brushed with olive oil and seasoned to taste, and serve them as a vegetable. You could also peel those wedges, cut the flesh into cubes, and use them in such things as stews, soups and chili.

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