So the word is that we are in the midst of a canned pumpkin shortage. Libby's has reported that bad weather conditions LAST year are resulting in very low production of canned pumpkin right now. Apparently there was a bit of a panic recently on Twitter and people are afraid they will have no pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. The horror!
I'm actually not participating in the uproar. I haven't even looked for canned pumpkin at any of my grocery stores, though I might start, just out of curiousity to see if I can find it. But every time I've gone to the store lately, I've seen huge boxes absolutely overflowing with lovely, round, bright orange pumpkins. So why worry???
I know, some people look at the garden produce and see only porch decorations or a future Halloween Jack-o-Lantern. But guess what? You can actually take one of the pumpkins from your local grocer and probably get enough pumpkin to keep you in bread, pies, and bars until the end of the season! It isn't even difficult!
I usually keep my pumpkins out for decoration until Halloween; I do pull them in when it freezes overnight, though. Then, I bring them inside and straight to the kitchen. I give them a good washing, remove the stems, and then cut them in half. I scrape out the seeds into a colander and get a cookie sheet out of the cabinet and spray it with a little oil. I place my pumpkin halves on the cookie sheet and pop them into a 375° oven until they are nice and soft.
Once the squash is softened, I pull them out and let them cool for a bit, until I can pull off the outer skin. It usually comes off with very little effort once the pumpkin is good and cooked. Then I put the pumpkin flesh in a large bowl and puree it down a bit with my hand blender. Once it's nice and mashed, I measure one-cup amounts into zip-top bags and prepare them for the freezer. I generally have cooked pumpkin year-round because those big ones result in a LOT!!!
Just today I pulled out 2 bags and made a big batch of pumpkin bars. A few days ago I made pumpkin cheesecake bars. The fresh (frozen) pumpkin truly makes delightful treats, and I don't miss the canned variety at ALL!
So don't fret about the "Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2009." Besides the fact that Libby's also now reports that they are currently processing the current year's harvest and it will be shipping to stores in plenty of time for holiday baking, you can definitely enjoy everything pumpkin and never open a single can! Try it....you will be amazed at how easy and delicious fresh pumpkin really is.