Menostruction - Instruction on Destruction

Blame Mara for this one.  It is a bit spooky how this post came about, in fact. For, you see, I had already a week earlier completed and scheduled for FFHT tomorrow. Then along came a message. Mara, it turned out, had decided to have a go at one of my recipes; the one which gets mentioned in tomorrow's FFHT!!! There was a plea in that message... "how, please, to slaughter slice a pumpkin?" Ever ready to provide relevant info, I wrote back. [The white background is because I cut and pasted from my email.]

NB; this post is written as a DIY helpdesk in direct  response to an emergency call. All responsibility for what may result from such instruction is held at the user's end. 
DOUBLE NB; for adults only - and even then, supervision may be advisable. Sharp instruments must be held with respect.

Now the thing is whether you have a whole body pumpkin, or simply part of one... clearly, pieces are slightly easier to truss. Then there is what 'ethnic origin' it has. For example the Butternuts of the world are, generally, rather soft skinned and surrender quite readily to The Blade. The American Orange varieties can vary according to age; bright and yielding in youth but tough and leathery in later stages.. even donning a few warts and lesions for extra effect. The Kabocha is related to the Butternuts, and thus thinner of skin. The Queensland Blue is a bit of a b*****....

Side fact; did you know that there are something like 40 varieties in the world? All are actually, in botanic terms, referred to as Cucurbita (squash), but are called 'pumpkin' for culinary purposes. Pumpkins ARE squash,  and squashes ARE pumpkins. Gourds are also of this family; as are melons, zucchini, marrows and such like. The name 'pumpkin' is an adjective which arose from the Greek word 'pepon' meaning... (wait for it.....) 'large melon'. All are edible, with varying uses. Seeds can be roasted and nibbled like nuts - very nutritious!

All of which is delaying the inevitable. Get a bally big axe errrrrrrrrrr - your bestest kitchen knife - place the pumpkin on a surface where it is a bit lower than waist height so that you can get best purchase (full body weight) behind that weapon - errrrr cutting implement.... ...............of course if you have an axe, the first cut can be done outside with that. Quick and painless.  For you.

If keeping it in the kitchen, do not try to cut in half immediately. Stick the point of the knife into the head top of the fruit, then lever down with as clean a stroke as you can manage. Be prepared for squealing. It's hard work. The pumpkin may object also. It may be worth mentioning, in case not already thought of, that placing the thing on a non-slip surface is advisable. Turn the victim... errrrr fruit... round 180' and repeat this action on the other side. This ought to result in having two halves, joined only by the stalk - unless that has already been removed. Pull that little beauty apart by its shoulders. Ahem. Laying the flesh side down, you can now apply full force with the weapon....errrrr knife... to each half and create another two halves - making quarters. From then on, the whole butchering preparation business will be second nature and you a can keep going till you have the size of chunk you want. NOTICE; if using a Butternut or other elongated variety, the first cut can simply be done across the waist. Job jobbed.

Now, as to removal of the skin itself, this depends on purpose. For soup, clearly one must strip the thing. This is easiest with a pumpkin peeler (see piccie) - but in absence of that, a standard peeler can work, but prepare yourself for some serious RSI - (actually, prepare for RSI anyway; there's a price to pay for slaughtering slicing pumpkins). If no peeler, use the axe....errrrrrr. knife.. whilst the chunks are still quite large and slice down. 

If one is using the pumpkin for other things, it may not be necessary to strip it. As long as the skin is smooth and well washed, it can remain on for things such as roasting/baking along with potatoes and parsnips and such. If being used in a curry, the skin can be left on, as long as you don't mind having to separate it at point of eating. This is regularly done in India and is actually a better option nutritionally as, like most fruits, the bulk of the minerals and vits are just beneath the skin and are therefore preserved. There is an argument for cooking all vegetables and fruits with their skins on, actually, as not only does it keep maximum amount of nutritional elements but, in the majority of cases, makes those elements more bio-available to the human body. It is just that we have tended to want our food ever more 'tidy and inoffensive' and are not prepared to deal with skins on the plate - personally I prefer it. Indeed, taking the (thoroughly scrubbed) skins of potatoes, carrots, some pumpkins and tossing them in olive oil, paprika, light soy sauce, salt and pepper then roasting on triple nova heat can make for some very interesting snackables.

Anyway. As I said in the preceding caveat, what you do in the privacy of your own kitchen is entirely your responsibility and these guidelines in no way constitute an incitement to menompkinocide...


After writing, came across this very nice site... have fun with it!

6 comments:

  1. Now, this sounds like a lot of work. When my son was young he enjoyed carving the pumpkin faces. Happy Halloween, enjoy your day!

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  2. Valuable and timely information! Unfortunately we can't trust mom around sharp instruments!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

    Pee Ess - Don't forget to sign up for the Blogville Christmas Card and/or gift exchange!! See Oreo's blog for details!! http://jazzis-world.blogspot.com/

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  3. What a hoot. I'm not planning on cooking many. This is such a lovely selection!!!!

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  4. Oh, my! Most of the pumpkins here are gray and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't make very good jack-o-lanterns!

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  5. It's great that we have so much different pumpkins! I always wanted that vietnamese pumpkin, just for the look. but our stores are probably not brave enough to sell them :o)

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  6. Well, I probably had the toughest one of all! It was difficult, it was hard, it was painful. In fact, I felt my arm the next day!! But, the result.... Yum! And a belated thank you for the advice!

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