By Mike Pound
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Jennifer Mansfield uses fresh pumpkin rather than canned when she bakes. For one thing, she said, the meat from a roasted pumpkin just tastes better.
“But it’s also fresh. It’s pure, it doesn’t have any other ingredients in it,” she said.
She also prefers the consistency of fresh pumpkin, and said the meat is not as dark as canned pumpkin.
Mansfield, of Carthage, began baking with fresh pumpkins about a decade ago. She said the idea came from Kelly Frazier, cousin of her husband, Scott.
“She made a cake with it (fresh pumpkin) and everybody was going on and on about it, so I bought a pie pumpkin and tried it and I have been using it ever since,” she said.
When Mansfield uses the term “pie pumpkin,” she said, she is referring to the small pumpkins available at most grocery stores during the fall. While she has heard of some people who bake using the larger pumpkins associated with Halloween, she feels that the smaller ones work best for baking.
To roast a pumpkin, Mansfield slices a pie pumpkin in half and then scoops out both halves. She then lays both pumpkin halves face-down on a cookie sheet and bakes them in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.
Once the pumpkin halves are done, she removes them, lets them cool a bit and then scoops out the pumpkin meat. Once the meat has been scooped out, she pures it until smooth in a food processor. A medium-sized pie pumpkin, Mansfield said, normally yields 2 to 21Ú2 half cups of pumpkin meat.
Once the pumpkin meat has been pured, it can either be used right away or it can be refrigerated and saved for later. In the fall, Mansfield likes to keep lots of fresh pured pumpkin on hand for baking.
As the mother of three teenagers, Mansfield appreciates the fact pumpkin is that rare food that her children, Will, Katie and Taylor, all seem to love. Mansfield said she also enjoys baking pumpkin cakes and breads, including a chocolate chip pumpkin bread.
Her daughter, Katie, who was sitting at the kitchen counter, quickly chimed in.
“Chocolate chip pumpkin bread, that’s my favorite,” she said with a smile.
We included Mansfield’s pumpkin pie recipe on Page 1C. If you don’t have time to prepare a fresh pumpkin, Mansfield said canned pumpkin will do. She admits to using the canned product when fresh pumpkins are not available.