A reader has asked: I would like to use a fresh pumpkin to make my pie this Thanksgiving. Any hints?
A. Yes, of course. First of all, make sure to buy a sugar or pie pumpkin, which is rather flat in shape. Do not use a round jack o’lantern-type pumpkin or the puree you make from it will be watery and tasteless. A real pie pumpkin has fairly dry, bright-orange flesh; after it is cooked and pureed it looks just like the type of pumpkin that comes in a can and is identical to it in every way – one of the reasons I always use canned pumpkin.
To cook fresh pumpkin, halve it and scoop out seeds (toast them separately with a pinch of salt if you wish). Place pumpkin, cut side up, on baking pan and cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350 degrees about an hour, or until tender. Cool, scoop flesh from skin and puree in the food processor. And remember, baked and pureed acorn squash or sweet potatoes are also good alternatives to canned pumpkin.