After several grueling days of trying to work through all the pumpkins Reagan and I purchased at the pumpkin patch, I finally have pictures of our labor!
Reagan was a huge help. She washed all the pumpkins for me in a sink full of soapy water, then I pulled off the stems and hacked them into halves with a butcher knife. (NOTE: If your child is the sensitive type and has formed a great attachment to the pumpkins, this may not be the kind of thing you want to attempt in front of her...just sayin'...because, well there were quite a few tears and lots of heart-wrenching sobs at our house that day!) After drying your child's tears and assuring her that you are massacring the grown-up pumpkins and NOT the baby pumpkins, remove the guts and seeds. Put those aside for later.
Oh, and if your butcher knife happens to get stuck in a problematic, stubborn, tough pumpkin, the best way to hack through that little puppy and get your knife back out is to sling the whole thing on the floor. It'll bust open. Just maintain your grip on the knife people...oh and make sure your child is NOT present for this little feat of strength.
Finally poke holes all over the pumpkin 'meat' and cook them on cookie sheets for 30 minutes at 350. The pumpkin skins should come off easily and you'll be able to remove the 'meat'. You can add a little water and mash them yourself OR use a food processor...but I do NOT recommend the blender. (Um, yes, I actually forgot I owned a food processor for the first batch of pumpkin cooking---oy vey!)
At any rate, you should have delicious pumpkin puree that you can use anyway you would normally use a can of pumpkin!
For a total of six dollars and TONS of mom-hours later, I had 17 bags of 2-cup pumpkin puree. Each of those bags contains approximately one ounce more of pumpkin than the cans do. Libby sells their 15-oz containers for $1.39. So, I saved almost $18.00.
Honestly, though, Libby's is a great value. You don't have to pay for the electricity cost of running your oven (or gas cost) or put in the constant time of making the puree or the cost of washing all the dishes. BUT you don't get the fun of doing it yourself, the delicious pumpkin seeds or the satisfaction of knowing that you're supporting a local farmer and feeding your child local foods. I think either route you wish to go is perfectly fine...and if there isn't a pumpkin shortage next year, I'll probably go back to purchasing Libby's pumpkin in the cans. After all, there is some research showing that the canning process actually enhances the nutrients in the pumpkin. Again, you say po-TAY-toe and I say po-Taaaaa-toe. Either way, enjoy the pumpkin season!