The secret to success with pumpkins is quite simple and there are really just five easy steps:
- Cut in half
- Clean out the inside
- Let cool down
Cutting your Pumpkin
First of all, the best advice is to select a knife that you are comfortable using. Then, place the pumpkin on to some newspaper, as this will make it easier to clean up and place any debris in the bin later on.
Hold the pumpkin firm with one hand and make a small incision in the centre. Then you can use a gentle sawing action to cut all the way around until you have two perfect halves. One tip before you begin, if you are not confident cutting then use a marker pen and simply draw a line to guide you.
Cleaning Out Your Pumpkin
After cutting the pumpkin carefully in half, it is time to clean out any stringy bits and the seeds. To cut down on wasting too much time, always make sure your worktops are clear and covered in a sheet of newspaper, as now comes the messy bit! You will need an ice cream scoop or maybe just a large deep spoon. Then remove all the seeds and the guts of the pumpkin until you are left with smooth orange pumpkin flesh. Scoop out all the unwanted inners onto the newspaper, and then you can fold it up and place it directly into the bin, with no or little mess!
Cooking is The Key!
Yes, that’s right, the key to success is to first cook the two pumpkin halves before attempting to peel the outer rind. It is incredibly simple, but without cooking the pumpkin attempting to peel off the outer skin is actually quite a difficult task.
Cooking a medium size pumpkin in a conventional oven will take about 30 to 40 minutes at 200C. The best advice is to place the two halves facing up and, if you like, on a baking sheet to reduce any chance of it sticking to the oven tray.
To check whether it is cooked enough, just prick the pumpkin with a fork to see if the flesh is tender.
If you are using a microwave, then a medium size pumpkin will take about 15 to 20 minutes in an 1100 watt powered model. It is essential to place the flesh sides down on a flat dish and to add a few spoons of water. Then it is advisable to check after 10 minutes and add more water if necessary.
Let it Cool
It really makes good sense to leave the pumpkin for a good 10 minutes to cool down. The main reason to do this is to allow for easy handling when you are peeling off the tender flesh from the skin of the pumpkin. It’s a great time to chill, relax and put on a favourite tune!
The Great Peel
So, you have prepped, cooked and cooled your carefully selected squash. We are now just about done. Believe it or not, if it is well cooked then you can often peel the skin off with just your fingers! Yes, having followed our guide, this tough, gnarly rind can be that easy to remove. However, if you want a neat, precise cut then use an appropriate knife to cut away the outer skin and leave you with the tasty pumpkin flesh!
The final thing to say on the subject is that the cooking times will really depend on the size of the pumpkin. If you want a really easy peel and the pumpkin will be used for a purée or soup, cook for a bit longer and to make the peeling process even easier!