I can’t say for sure that Fall is not my favorite season of the year. It must be the actual time of being in it, that makes Fall seem to glow in golden light and make the air crisp and the sky seem so blue.
One of the most satisfying aspects of Fall is, to me, the pumpkin harvest. Pumpkins are magical fruits. They are an important symbol for Halloween and other Holidays. Nearly everyone has a Jack-o-lantern of some sort, every year, whether it is a huge display of beautifully carved pumpkins or a pumpkin-shaped plastic pail.
Of all the varieties of pumpkins available, I would like to say something on behalf of the smallish Godiva variety. That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to the other varieties. Each has it’s own special charm. For me, the Godiva is perfect. They are so easy to grow and process.
If you are interested in the plumpest, tastiest, huskless seeds, they are to be found in Godiva pumpkins. I can tell you, it is very nice to eat freshly roasted pumpkin seeds that have no husks to get stuck in your teeth. ( They are named for the famous naked lady.)
Another positive for having Godiva pumpkins is: the seeds are easily removed as they are not encased in a lot of slimy, stringy pumpkin innards. They grow in long pouch-like structures, that easily give up all of their green huskless seeds with a simple squeeze of the fingers. No need to rinse.
I don’t rinse pumpkin seeds anymore, from any variety. The small amount of flesh left on the seeds is tasty when roasted. If you rinse the seeds, they become slimy and take a very long time to dry, or roast.
The only difficulty to having Godiva pumpkins, is that once they cure, (that is, the outside dries out and gets hard,) they are harder to cut open. It is easiest to cut freshly ripened Godivas, but it’s not always convenient. It is still simple to open the cured pumpkin. I use a sharp, heavy knife and a small hammer. Always be sure to point the knife away from you. Use a cutting board and carefully make your entry across the top of the pumpkin, for seeds and pumpkin for pies, breads, muffins, soups, and many more applications (you can even make pumpkin facials.) Cut length-wise from the top to the bottom. Position the pumpkin so the knife handle can be held comfortably. Strike the top of the blade, close to the pumpkin, with only enough force to make it move through the pumpkin. Take your time to be careful. It has never taken small me, more than a few minutes to cut a pumpkin in half.
For carving Jack-o-lanterns, I have found the tool kits for pumpkin carving, available in all the stores before Halloween, to be useful. The blades are not sharp and are safe for older kiddos to use, as long as they are supervised.
Remove the seeds and set them aside. Scrape out the interior of the pumpkin with a large spoon. Don’t worry about a few strings, they cook away. Discard the empy innards- I compost them. If you have pumpkin juice on your hands, rub it in. It is full of vitamins and enzymes that are great for skin. When you wash your hands, you will notice they are softer.
To roast the pumpkin halves, rub the insides with a little oil, I use olive. Place them cut side down on a baking sheet that has a squirt of oil across it. Roast for about an hour at 350F. Check for doneness by pressing on them with a fork. If the pumpkin is soft, and gives, it is done.
While the pumpkin cooks, spread the seeds in a single layer, on another baking sheet. Drizzle them with a little olive oil, stir and then sprinkle with salt and pepper, or any spice you like. Some people like cinnamon and sugar.
Put the seeds in the oven, with the pumpkin, on another rack. Stir the seeds every 15 minutes. They will do some popping as they roast. They take about an hour. Taste a cooled seed to see if they are toasted to your liking. They can always be toasted a little more, but of course, if you burn them, they can’t be fixed.
Cool the pumpkin to use in delicious pies, soups, breads, cakes, etc. Godiva has creamy flesh, easily used in every recipe. I have never had to run it through a sieve. Either mash with a potato masher, or use a stick blender- which is very nice for creamy soup. This pumpkin is much tastier than the kind out of a can. You can also freeze the pumpkin in recipe-sized portions for your convenience. Use the same way you use canned pumpkin.
Enjoy your pumpkins, enjoy Fall!