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Old 11-21-2013, 07:14 PM
 
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I think this is a technique I'm going to keep, even though it's time-consuming.

I started the way I usually do: bought a pair of pie pumpkins at the Farmers' Market, split them in half, scooped out the seeds, and put them cut-side-down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Added a bit of water and slow-roasted them (at 300 or 325) for an hour and a half or so, then left them overnight in the gradually cooling oven.

Next day, I scooped out the flesh from the skin and dumped it into my food processor, as usual, to puree the pumpkin into creaminess. And as always, the flesh was really soupy and wet; pumpkins are very soggy vegetables.

In previous years, at that point I'd dump the pureed pulp into a clean flour-sack towel and squeeze the bejabers out of it to get as much liquid out as I could. Only problem was that I could tell I was losing a lot of flavor and sweetness that way, because that liquid was wonderfully pumpkin-flavored and sweet.

So this year, after the pulp was all pureed, I poured it into my crockpot. I put the lid on slightly askew so the steam would escape, set the crock on "High" and left it overnight.

By morning, the level of pumpkin in the crock was 2" or 3" lower than it was the night before. I turned it down to low and left it going all day, too, and by evening, what I had left was a dark, intensely-flavored lump of pumpkin at the bottom of the crock. It had gone from over two quarts in volume down to about three cups, but all the flavor that I used to lose with the liquid is still in it. The solid, condensed pumpkin is currently residing in my freezer, awaiting its ultimate destiny on our dinner table in a week's time. I think our pies this year are going to be incredible!

In retrospect, I'd either do it entirely on "Low," or else shorten down the time in the crock a bit, or maybe just do the whole crockpot step when I'm home and awake so I can monitor it more closely. There were some slightly scorchy bits around the edge, which I am sure would not have happened had I been here and keeping an eye on it the whole time. It's still totally worth it, though, and I will definitely do this again.
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Old 11-22-2013, 08:19 AM
 
Location: Florida (SW)
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I wonder if you even need to put them in the oven with water to start the process. It sounds as if you could just put them in the slow cooker after cleaning them....if they don't fit...cut them into pieces.....after they cook....let the pieces cool and use a serving spoon to scoop off the flesh from the shell. Then you could puree the flesh with any juices from the crock pot and if need be.....cook it down in the crock pot or in a dutch oven.

I bet the intensity of flavor in your pumpkin will be wonderful.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:32 AM
 
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Good point, Elston, though I'd need a much bigger crockpot to hold the raw pieces. Our little crockpot was full to the rim with the pureed pulp, and I can't imagine trying to fit all that pumpkin still raw into the crock. Even with small pieces, I suspect I'd have wound up doing it in two batches, one for each pumpkin.

Still, for someone who has a huge crockpot, you could roast pumpkin the way I've seen people describing baking potatoes in a crockpot. That might cut the time down some.

I thought about cooking it down in a Dutch oven rather than the crock, but I think the slower and less direct heat of the crockpot works better for this. Between the sugar in the pumpkin and the density of the pulp as the water cooks out, I'd worry about it burning in a Dutch oven.

I'll stop back after next Thursday with the family's verdict on the pies.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Florida (SW)
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I bet your pies will be delicious! (I do have a very large 7 qt. cooker.)
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:56 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there
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Hi MWBW always nice to see you back in the foodie section.

You can do both of the pumpkins if you have a roaster it will cook down like a crock pot and not scorch but I wouldn't leave it unattended. It would need stirred at some points glad you found a better way to capture the flavors.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:57 PM
 
Location: North Idaho
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I think that the crock pot to reduce is a clever idea.

Myself, I just use the fresh pumpkin wet.

I've not had to cut back on the liquid in recipes, but that could be done.

I put about a cup of water in the bottom of the roasting pan that is full to the top with chunks of pumpkin. Cooked chunks are taken out and the liquid left in the pan is used elsewhere.

I prefer the flavor of the jack-o-lantern pumpkins and those contain a lot more moisture than the pie pumpkins. Even so, I use them to make pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cake, and even pumpkin pie, with the level of moisture they contain as they come out of their initial cooking. (yes, they are wet, yes, it works)
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:39 PM
 
Location: New York City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MidwesternBookWorm View Post
I thought about cooking it down in a Dutch oven rather than the crock, but I think the slower and less direct heat of the crockpot works better for this. Between the sugar in the pumpkin and the density of the pulp as the water cooks out, I'd worry about it burning in a Dutch oven.
You can do it on the stove—use low heat and stir constantly. Much faster than the crock-pot method.

This is only for reducing the water content in the pumpkin. I would wait to add the sugar and spices. You don’t want the sugar to caramelize before the liquid is reduced.
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpk-nyc View Post
You can do it on the stove—use low heat and stir constantly. Much faster than the crock-pot method.

This is only for reducing the water content in the pumpkin. I would wait to add the sugar and spices. You don’t want the sugar to caramelize before the liquid is reduced.
Very true. Unfortunately, the "stir constantly" part is a problem for me, which is why I used the crock pot. Takes longer, but requires less hands-on maintenance.

I haven't added anything to the pumpkin, but it has plenty of its own natural sugars. We'll add the milk, sugar, spices, eggs and so on when we make up the custard filling on Wednesday evening.
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