Pumpkin Math

…I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

After a couple articles showed up Monday advocating cooking your (used) jack o'lantern to make puree as an exercise in frugality, I bought one of these Tuesday out of sheer indignation.

Fairytale Pumpkin. French press frame for scale.

That is a Fairytale Pumpkin. I always want to get one every fall, just because they're pretty. But this year, thanks to my gardening endeavours I found out 1) Fairytale Pumpkins are really French heirlooms named Musque de Provence, and 2) they're famous for being good eating pumpkins. The barriers to splurging on fancy pumpkins were shattered, and I bought one to roast for puree.

Anxious to get the most value for my $10, I bought the biggest one I could find. My pumpkin weighs 25.8 pounds.

Curious, I measured my pumpkin, to estimate how much puree it would give me. The pumpkin itself is a rough ellipsoid, and the interior (based on pictures of what one looks like cut) is supposed to be a rough sphere with a radius of about half that of the whole pumpkin.

Not my actual pumpkin.

Mine was 16 inches both ways across, and 8 inches tall, so I plugged 8, 8, and 4 into the ellipsoid volume equation:

Ve = 4/3(8*8*4)π = 341.33π

and 4 into the sphere volume equation:

Vs = 4/3(4^3)π = 85.33π

and then I subtracted the two:

Ve – Vs = Vf = 256π = 804.25 cubic inches

804.25 cubic inches converts to 13.93 quarts of pumpkin puree.

Given that my initial measurements were very rough estimates, the irregular and heavily grooved exterior of the pumpkin, that the shapes are not really perfect ellipsoids or spheres, and that some of the volume difference will necessarily be rind, I've rounded this down to 10 quarts.

Still. 10 quarts is:

  • 2.5 gallons of puree
  • 22.85 cans of store pumpkin (@ 1 3/4 cups per can)
  • enough puree to make two batches of pumpkin bread every week from now till Christmas (12 weeks), plus a couple pies.
  • all that bread and pie would require eight and a half dozen (102) eggs.

Come Friday, we'll see just how much puree we do get. And my sister laughed at me on Twitter, for saying I wanted to weigh my pumpkin “for Science!”


Flycat is going to loan me her pressure canner, so if roasted cubed pumpkin, or Three Sisters Soup are hits, I'll be able to can some cubed pumpkin as well as freezing puree. I'll roast half the pumpkin for puree to start – to be honest, I don't think I could fit the whole pumpkin in my oven, even in slices.


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9 Responses to Pumpkin Math

  1. Mad Auntie Mo says:

    Very good as a vegetable, as pie filling, in cookies, in soup–all sorts of places. You need to get some shots of some little toy person or animal hiding inside, though, before you roast it, because it really is meant to be a coach…

  2. Foxfier says:

    Hehe, I’ve been planning to put up the pumpkin cookie recipe I got from a co-blogger….

    2 cups canned pumpkin
    1 cup sugar
    ½ cup cooking oil
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp cinnamon
    ½ tsp salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp milk
    2 tsp vanilla
    1 bag Nestle’s Toll House chocolate chips
    Preheat oven to 350º F. Combine pumpkin, sugar and oil in a mixing bowl. Add flour, baking powder cinnamon and salt, mixing well. Mix soda and milk in a separate container, then add to cookie mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla.

    Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake @ 350º F until done; about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm with lots and lots of ice-cold milk, and napkins, since you’ll get melted chocolate chips all over your fingers.

    I usually use one can of pumpkin puree, although you can use two cups of pumpkin pie mix as well.

    Especially good for making with other peoples’ children, since there are no eggs so no fussing about licking spoons.

    I make them with a baby spoon as the cookie scoop, because it’s much nicer to be able to take a full cookie when I just want a taste.

  3. Foxfier says:

    If you’re not going to eat them pretty quick, it’s best to put them in the fridge in a sealed container. Very good gifts.

  4. melaniebett says:

    Make spicy pumpkin leek risotto. I chop and freeze extra pumpkin just because I love this dish so much. Now I’m craving it. I need to go buy pumpkin and leeks.


    3 leeks, white part and 1 inch of green part, very thinly sliced and well washed
    1/3 cup olive oil
    3-5 teaspoons Aleppo pepper, or 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
    2 large cloves of garlic, minced
    1-1/2 pounds pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and seeded and cut into 1/3 inch cubes
    1/2 cup dry, white wine
    3 cups defatted chicken stock or more as needed
    1-1/2 cups arborio rice
    2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    2/3 cup chopped cilantro


    In a large skillet or saute pan, saute the leeks in olive oil for 6 to 8 minutes until translucent. Add pepper, garlic and pumpkin. Saute 5 to 10 minutes, until any liquid has evaporated. Add wine and stir. Add 1/2 cup water and reduce heat. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until pumpkin is tender. (You can prepare the vegetables up to this point several hours in advance.)

    Twenty minutes before serving, bring stock to gentle boil in medium saucepan. Keep warm. Heat the pumpkin mixture and, as it starts to boil, add the rice, stirring a few times with a wooden spoon to coat rice with oil.

    Add about 1/2 cup of boiling stock and simmer, stirring constantly, adding more stock as liquid is absorbed by rice.

    After about 15 minutes, taste the rice. It should be cooked but al dente. Season with salt and black pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.

    Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

    Serves 4-6.

    Even though the book (Mediterranean Hot, one of my favorite cookbooks ever) says to eat immediately and reheated risotto is something of a culinary faux pas, I like eating this risotto as leftovers the next day so having extra doesn’t bother me.

    • GeekLady says:

      Oh, that does sound good! We tend to make a sort of bastardized chicken & asparagus risotto that also makes good leftovers. I didn’t know leftover risotto was a culinary faux pas, though.

      I wasn’t sure how well diced pumpkin would freeze though, which is why I’m borrowing Cat’s pressure canner.

      Sent from my iPad

      • melaniebett says:

        Well according to my Italian-American husband and several cookbooks I’ve looked at, risotto is meant to be eaten right off the stove. Supposedly it isn’t as good reheated.

        I think the recipe instructions suggest you cook the pumpkin and leek first and then freeze it at that point. But I’ve found just freezing it is fine. It gets a little mushy; but not much more than it gets when you cook it for the risotto.

  5. nancyo says:

    Via your blog email, I sent you a couple of links to pumpkin soups I have known and loved.

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