Due to heavy rains during the harvest of pumpkins in Illinois, Nestle said growers have been prevented from picking the entire crop. As a result, less pumpkin has been harvested and canned to be sold for pie-making. This may lead to a shortage of Libby’s Canned Pumpkin.
But don’t despair if your store is out- you can cook your own pumpkin for Thanksgiving pies! And it’s so easy. Here in Ohio at least, there was a huge crop of pumpkins that are still being sold in farmer’s markets and grocery stores. Note that these cooking methods work for any variety of pumpkin or winter squash. Cooking times may be adjusted for the size of your pumpkin/squash. For pumpkin, be sure to use the smaller pie pumpkins instead of the large Jack-O-Lantern size.
1. Oven Method – Wash pumpkin, cut in half and remove seeds and strings. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place pumpkin cut side down on baking sheet for 60 – 90 minutes depending on size of pumpkin. To test for doneness, stick a fork in it. It should be very soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly so you can handle it. When cool, scrape flesh off rind and process flesh until smooth in a food processor or blender. Use as you would in any recipe, 2 cups of pumpkin = 1 can Libby’s in their standard recipe. This is my favorite method when I have time because it gives a drier result.
2. Microwave Method – Cooking a pumpkin or squash whole is the easy way if your microwave is big enough. Just cut off the stem, poke a few holes in it with a fork and put a dish under it to catch the liquid. For a small microwave, cut in pieces and put in microwave safe dish for cooking. For a small pumpkin or pieces, cook for 15 minutes and test for doneness, again it will be very soft, probably falling in on itself. Let it cool and scrape out the seeds and strings. (For pieces remove the seeds and strings first.) Then scrape out the flesh and process until smooth. Depending on your variety of pumpkin, you may have to let it drain a little bit – just line a collander with coffee filters or a thin cotton dish cloth, dump in the puree and drain until it stops dripping. Again, use in any recipe.
There’s nothing wrong with using canned pumpkin, and I think Libby’s is the best, but if you can’t find it try cooking your own, it makes a delicious dish!