WARNING – There are quite a few photos of butchered pumpkins in this post. If you have sensitive children that might have attachments to their Jack O’Lantern friends, this might be a post they should skip on (besides the fact that the rest of the time the posts are about beer).
No uglies here.
Pumpkin time! I went to Winn Dixie and got the nastiest, gnarliest, creepiest pumpkin I could find. I think they went out of their way to remove all of the ugly pumpkins, because this was the nastiest one availabe. So much for trying to find something revolting to work with to shock people. I dug around in the “patch” (or whatever they call the area where you buy pumpkins at the grocery store), and had the hardest time looking for a defiled pumpkin with scars and bumps. After a good amount of searching I was able to at least find one with this cool stem, so I settled on it.
7 lbs. should suffice…
When I brewed this batch a few weeks ago, I ended making a last second decision and not adding pumpkin during the brew. Instead, I decided to wait to add the pumpkin during secondary and let the beer ferment with just the spices I added (primarily cinnamon and nutmeg). It has been a while. Fermentation has stopped, and now it is time to add the ingredient that gives my beer its name (I’m adding pumpkin today, if you haven’t figured it out already). When deciding how I wanted to add the pumpkin I did my usual research on the boards and forums that I like. A few people suggested caramelizing the pumpkin before adding it to secondary and I could not think of a better way to enhance the brew! I ran over to Costco and bought some sugar. When I say some, I mean 7 pounds. Some might say this is overkill, but it at least wasn’t a 50 pound bag of food (which I may or may not have made the mistake of purchasing and hauling around for years once before). I also pulled together my pumpkin (as shiny and beautiful as it was), and that was all I was going to need for today!
Right after I decided to brew beer and stop making Jack O’Lanterns
I started by cutting up my pumpkin… Well, this completely confused me at first. Every other pumpkin in my life that I have taken a knife to has turned into a work of art. I would cut open the top, meticulously scrape out every seed and make award winning Jack O’Lanterns. On this day, about 10 minutes after I was working on removing all of the seeds, I realized that I was cooking this pumpkin and could instead chop it up however I wanted and no one was going to care. Boom. Butcher knife out, 2 minutes later and we had a cut up pumpkin.
Post Pumpkin-Chop Realization
I threw these pumpkin chunks (minus the seeds, see below) in the oven for an hour on 450. For the first ten minutes I was certain that I had done something wrong, because I could hear these mysterious noises coming from the oven. It took me about that long to realize it was just the water from the pumpkin popping as it was getting hotter. Eventually the pumpkin cooked in silence.
When I took the gourd out, it looked just about the same as how I put it in. This did not make me happy. I then pushed one spoon into the pumpkin and was soon giddy with delight. The pumpkin was cooked and soft, and tasted pretty great. A few minutes after scraping the crap out of my chunks I had a very gooey mess, and some very creepy leftovers. If you ever do this the day of Halloween, I would find some way to incorporate the pumpkin exterior as faux human skin, because that’s exactly what it looks like. That could scare somebody for sure.
I eventually took all of the mess and threw it back on my pan and sprinkled my brown sugar all over it. This went back in the oven and cooked for some amount of time at some temperature (recall, I do drink beer during this process, so some facts are left a little fuzzy). Eventually it came out gooey, caramelized and perfect.
Beer ingredient? Dessert? Not sure still.
Here’s where the beer comes in. I almost forgot to add the pumpkin. No joke. I was about to move the brew over with nothing in the bucket until Hannah quickly reminded me what I had been creating for the past few hours should probably included in the beer. I heeded her advice. I put my sugary pumpkin-mush in the bottom of a carboy and started to siphon over my wort into the new bucket. Let’s just say at this point, I was ready to be done.
Victory pose for being almost done.
As my beer was mixing with the pumpkin, the smells were awesome. The nutmeg started spicing up my apartment as it slowly transferred over, filling to about 5.5 gallons. Despite wanting to keep the aromas, the lid and air lock went on and everything back to the beer shelf. Another two weeks and it will be time to bottle!
—-Pumpkin Seed Sidenote—-
I decided to go ahead and use my pumpkin seeds for a snack as well. I cleaned the seeds and was about to roast them in the oven with salt, when my eyes caught that 7 pound bag of sugar. Well, the rest you can probably figure out, but I had to mention it. The truth is, brown sugar anything is better than the original. So, I believe (though I may not be the first creator) that my brown sugar pumpkin seeds may be the greatest Halloween invention in recent history. Just try it.
Caramelized sugary goodness doesn’t get any better. I’m sure they have vitamins too.