What to do with my 2 new pumpkins?!
We went out and got two beautiful (but big!) pumpkins this weekend... and they've been sitting on my counter since!
I'm a little intimidated. How do I cut into one? Do I just use a chef's knife, or do I have to go out and buy a special pumpkin-carving knife?
Also, how do I roast the seeds? And what part of the inside of the pumpkin do I actually use to eat and bake with?
As you can tell, I'm quite new at this whole pumpkin thing. Thanks in advance!
Those big pumpkins are best for decoration. The seeds can be roasted and eaten, of course, but the meat of the large pumpkins is mealy and tasteless. If you have a good short bladed knife, then that's all you need for cutting it open, and carving. The seeds can also be fried in their shells. I'm sure other CHs have good ideas for that. You need to empty the seeds and the bits that connect them from the inside of the pumpkin, and wash and dry them before frying, although, I've just rinsed them off, leaving some of that connective stuff. It dries to almost nothing in roasting. And it doesn't need to be left to dry that way, just put in a pan in the oven.
If you want to use pumpkin for cooking and eating, you probably want a small pie pumpkin. Not the little gourds that look like pumpkins. Pie pumpkins are about the size of a large softball, similar to most other autumn squash like pepper squash, in size.
Otherwise, use it for Halloween decoration, and enjoy it that way. Carved pumpkins don't last more than a few days, unless they are outside where it's cool, and even so....not more than a week. And NEVER leave a pumpkin with a candle in it, unattended. (Sorry, just HAD to say that)
The outer husks of the seeds are more edible in some varieties of pumpkins than others, I've heard. The difference is between "naked seeds" and seeds with hulls. To roast, put them on a lightly oiled sheet and bake at about 250 degrees for about 40 minutes. Shake every 10-15 minutes. You can add salt and spices like cumin, curry powder, onion or garlic powder, anything that sounds good.
As for carving, you can make the hole on top, on a side or on the bottom. You can put it on its side and use the stem for a nose. There are a million ideas and patterns on the web.
When you are carving, use a serrated knife and apply gentle pressure as you saw. More on the web about all aspects.
You can buy lights with batteries for inside to avoid the fire hazard and preservatives to spray inside to prevent mold. Or you can use vaseline or saran on cut surfaces to help slow down spoilage. And store in a cool place or outside.
(I am carving some fancy ones for a silent auction in a couple weeks so I have been practicing, and probably know more about this at this point than anyone should!)