It’s really not hard, though it does take a bit more time and effort than using a can opener to access a bunch of the fake stuff. I normally buy several nice pumpkins in early to mid-October for decorations. I tend to leave them as is in my displays, but if you want to decorate, use paint or markers. Don’t carve them until the day before Halloween and they’ll keep in good shape unless you happen to live in places where nothing survives outside for very long.
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Let it cool, scrape off any of the stringy stuff from the top and peel the flesh away from the tough skin. I put the flesh in a blender and puree it until reasonably smooth, then measure it into one- or two-cup containers.
I use some of it to make several loaves of pumpkin bread and a batch or two of pumpkin muffins and freeze the rest. Here’s my favorite pumpkin bread recipe:
3 cups self-rising flour (or 3 cup plain flour + 4-5 tsp. baking powder and 1 tsp. salt)
3 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 cup melted butter
Sift dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
Form a well in the center and eggs, pumpkin, and butter.
Stir until moistened.
Pour into 2 well-greased loaf pans
Bake at 350 degrees, 45 – 50 minutes.