Yes. You read that correctly. Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins are perfectly acceptable to eat as long as you haven’t carved it and have left it sitting out. There are so many varieties of pumpkin and squash, this is simply another one that most people only associate with the yearly appearance of spookily carved front door candle holders decor.
These lovely pumpkins have a better use and can easily be prepped to use for cooking anything. There is a stigma out there that these pumpkins are watery, stringy, and overall bland. Those people just don’t know how to prep their pumpkin right, or cook, though it might be both. I am sharing this recipe today so you can go pick up your own Jack-O-Lantern and discover an entire new use for it! The process is very easy and requires merely 4 steps.
Pre-Prep Time: 10min | Bake Time: 1hr | Cooking Prep: 30min
What You Need:
Medium Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin with no large abrasions or mold spots
1 medium-sized serrated knife
1 ice scream scooper or durable spoon
What You Do:
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Start by cleaning the outside of the pumpkin and toweling it dry, then cut a hole in the top
3. Carefully slice the pumpkin in half so you have two pieces. Use scooper to gut the pumpkin, setting aside the pulp and seeds for later
4. Slice each half in 1/4ths so each half is now in four small pieces
5. Arrange between two cookie sheets and roast in oven for 1 hourA properly roasted pumpkin with have caramelized liquid oozing from it and the skin will fall off effortlessly from the yummy meat. For pureed pumpkin, I roast it for the full hour so it is very soft, easily mashed with a potato masher or spoon. All of my cubed pumpkin I pull out about 40 min into the roasting time so it holds together better, then I dice it into large cubes for other cooking needs. Usually my batches are half/half with one tray for pureed and one for cubed.
Mash the pureed pumpkin immediately and line a strainer with a cheesecloth or since I lacked one I layered it in coffee filters, which works just as well, placing a heavy object on top to press out excess liquid. As the pumpkin cools it will drain itself of any excess water reserves, and every so often I will give it a light stir and extra press to allow for even and complete draining. Cubed needs to be transferred to a flat surface, peeled and cut and left to cool then transferred. This is an essential step because it not only allows the pumpkin to cool, but also gets rid of the “Jack-O-Lanterns are too watery” conundrum.
I reserve the pumpkin into separate baggies and toss them into the freezer – a total of 4 bags of cubed pumpkin and 2 pureed (15oz and 11oz).