How To: Homemade Pumpkin Puree
I know pumpkin has been on the radar for a month or so, but with Thanksgiving right around the corner, it seems that now, more than ever, it has the potential to be a star at your table. Yes, I am talking about pumpkin pie and soon I will share with you my favorite recipe for it but for now, I wanted to give you a quick How To on baking your own pumpkins. Making mashed pumpkin for baking is extremely easy and inexpensive. If you have never tried it, welcome to your tutorial! Doesn’t that bowl look awesome?! I love the color of pumpkin!
Just to be clear, let me reiterate that using canned pumpkin for any recipe at any time is just fine. I do it myself, especially during the off months when I can’t get a fresh pumpkin and I want to make muffins or pancakes or something. If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “Yeah right. I will never do this. Bring on the canned stuff!” that is totally OK. But if you ever really wanted to make something totally from scratch and you kept seeing these pumpkins at the farmer’s market/grocery/pumpkin patch and wondered how hard it would be to do, let me put your mind at ease. It is ridiculously easy. Check it out! So this is a sugar pumpkin. Or pie pumpkin or baking pumpkin. It depends on how they are labeled where you pick it up but they are usually a little darker in color than your regular carving pumpkin a bit smaller than a volleyball. These pumpkins are less stringy and the flesh has a sweeter flavor and smoother texture than your average garden pumpkin. They are also much easier to manage than an enormous Jack-O-Lantern size pumpkin! I have two here and they have just been washed off. Please please please rinse of your pumpkins, watermelons, cantaloupes, honey dew, etc before you cut them up and eat them! No, you don’t eat the outside, but that is the part that is now sitting on your clean counter and you have no idea who has handled it, where it has rolled around, what it was exposed to, or how far it has traveled! I don’t want that unknown grime on my cutting board. Eew Eew Eew. Cut them in half from top to bottom. Over the years I have discovered this seems to be the easiest way to get the seeds out and scoop out the flesh. Use a large sharp knife and be very careful! Some varieties of pumpkins have a thicker shell or rind on them than others so this may be easy to do and it might be tough. I usually have my husband cut them in half for me because his hands are bigger, he has better upper body strength to keep the knife steady, and also so I can give him smooches of thanks when he is done. Ahem.
Anyway, scoop out the guts and save the seeds! This is your opportunity to make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, an extremely healthy snack! Don’t let the opportunity pass you by to try these if you have never done it! It always makes me feel all resourceful and stuff. Scrape the stingy membrane away with a spoon until the inside is smooth and clean. Finish cleaning all your pumpkin halves and then place them on a sheet pan lined with foil. Place them cut side down. I have discovered that they steam nicely this way instead of actually roasting. This is perfect since you want the flesh to be nice and smooth, not browned or crispy on the edges. Bake the halves in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the flesh gives easily when pierced with a knife. Some pumpkins have a harder shell on them than others so you may need to turn a half over to see if it is nice and soft. Scoop the flesh out of the shell and into a large bowl. Isn’t that a beautiful big bowl of pumpkin? Mmmm. Smells good. This is where people differ a bit. Some people put the pumpkin in a food processor and whiz till it is baby food. I prefer to just mash the heck out of it with a potato masher. If you have cooked your pumpkin until it is good and soft, it will smooth out just fine. See? Nice and smooth. Now just cool it to room temperature and chill in a covered container in the fridge. If your pumpkin collects a bit of moisture around the edges, just pour it off. I like to do this while it cools in a bowl on the counter. You don’t want it to be soupy so I don’t like to stir in any of the excess water that surfaces. But it really doesn’t matter. Unless your puree is really watery, it should be just fine as is. Measure it out just like you would the stuff from the store in a can! Mashed pumpkin will last at least a week in the fridge but feel free to freeze any you don’t use. It is super easy to just thaw it out and bake with it at a later date. Lovely. Now you can make Pumpkin Pie Muffins or Marshmallow Pumpkin Dip. You could also make Sweet Potato Biscuits, but replace the potato with mashed pumpkin. Scrumptious!
Stay tuned for more recipe ideas to use up your pumpkin puree!