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[Laura's Culinary Adventures] Homemade Pumpkin Puree — an article on the Smart Living Network
October 12, 2011 at 11:47 AMComments: 11 Faves: 0

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

By
From the Laura's Culinary Adventures Blog Series

It has been far too long since I've been experimenting in the kitchen, I think! After a month or so of various ailments (canker sores, a nasty cold, and being just plain busy), I'm so glad that I can dive back into my culinary adventures. And since we're in the midst of October, what better test subject than a glorious, orange pumpkin?

Yes, I'm one of those people who, the minute I see one leaf turn slightly yellow or red, heads over to the nearest coffee shop to pick up a pumpkin spice latte. I can't help it. Fall is my favorite season; simultaneously crisp and lush, and such a welcome reprieve after the humidity of summer.

But despite my love for all things autumn, I  had never baked with pumpkin myself - unless you count that one time when I was in the house when a friend was making homemade pumpkin pie. But since I only came around once it was time to enjoy eating the pie, I don't think it really counts.

Anyway, I was starting to feel ashamed of my lack of experience in the pumpkin-baking department, so I thought I'd start with the basics: homemade pumpkin puree. Of course, you can always buy it canned at the grocery store...but what's the fun in that? Nothing beats the fresh, real thing. It's easy, and can be used in tons of different recipes: pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin butter, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cookies...you get the idea.

Need more incentive? Pumpkin, besides being lovely and colorful, is full of antioxidants, Vitamins A, C, K, and E, magnesium, potassium, iron...and again, the list goes on.

I'm assuming you don't need any more convincing at this point, so let's get to the recipe!

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

- 1 medium-size dense pumpkin, roughly 2-5 pounds (the lighter the pumpkin, the drier it is on the inside. Choose one heavy for its size.)

- Shallow baking pan (you may need more than 1, depending on the size)

- Scoop/spoon

- Blender or food processor (optional)

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom. To make this easier, you can cut off the stem first; personally, I just cut around it.

Next, you get to put on your pumpkin surgeon hat. (No medical degree or actual hat required.) Using a scoop or a spoon, scoop out the innards - seeds, stringy bits, and all - and put them into a bowl. Be sure to save the seeds for roasting so less gets wasted!

Once the seeds and stringy bits are safe in their own bowl, cut each half of the pumpkin into three and put them face-down on your shallow baking pan. So it doesn't get too dry, pour some water in the pan until it's coated with a thin layer. Then put it in the oven, set the timer for half an hour, and wait! I've seen lots of recipes that advise setting the oven to a lower temperature and baking it for longer, but in my experience, that's totally unnecessary.

When the half hour is up, test the softness by sticking a fork into the pumpkin. If it's ready, it should go in easily; if not, it may need some more time (and possibly some more water). When it's done, take the pan out of the oven and let the pumpkin sit until it's cool enough to handle - and then scoop away at that gorgeous yellow! I'm not aware of any recipes involving pumpkin skin, so just dispose of that as you go.

If you mash up the remaining pumpkin with a fork or potato masher (I just used my hands, actually), you'll have a perfectly serviceable puree. I left mine like this, since I knew I was going to be cooking it further in my pumpkin butter (coming tomorrow!) However, for some recipes, you may want a more smooth puree, so put it through a blender or food processer if that's the case.

That's it! Pumpkin puree should be refrigerated and used within a few days - or, to keep it longer, you can freeze it. Now that I know how easy it is, I think I'll be freezing some big batches so I can trick myself in the depth of winter into thinking it's lovely October again...

Have you ever made pumpkin puree? What recipes did you use it for? Inquiring pumpkin lovers want to know!

What did you think?

29%
YES!
11%
OMG!
12%
EPIC
14%
FAIL
11%
HUH?
10%
CUTE
13%
YUM!

Next:Pumpkin ButterPreviously:Kale Chips

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11 Comments

  • Sound good Laura, very easy to make. Thank You

  • Sounds very good. I am going to get pumpkins tomorrow, and I think I will try to bake some pumpkin too! :) Not trying to be a copy cat ;) It just sounds like a fun thing to experiment with.

  • Nice work :)

  • Quite similar to squash surgery :)

    Did you take your own pictures for this, Laura?

  • Oh, also, recently prepared Pumpkin Cake with cream cheese frosting. Absolutely divine :)

  • I've made it before, but took a slightly different route, guided by a friend from Texas. Her method allowed more of the pumpkin to brown a bit, which added complexity to the dish I was planning to make. (Pumpkin chili!)

    We cut the pumpkin into about 4-6 pieces to maximize the surface area exposed to air, and actually used butter on the surfaces to help promote browning and seal in some of the moisture. It took longer to soften up in the oven, but the results were definitely worth it!

  • Bri - copy all you want! Pumpkins are delicious, healthy, and easy to cook with :)

    Jessica - alas, I did not take my own picture this time! My hands were covered with pumpkin and I just plain forgot to grab the camera, anyway. I'll definitely be taking photos tonight when I make the pumpkin butter! That pumpkin cake sounds just heavenly. I think I'll be freezing some pumpkin this fall so I can try out all kinds of recipes even as it gets colder.

    Dave - that sounds awesome. I opted not to butter mine, since I'll probably be using it for a variety of different dishes. But if I do end up making pumpkin chili, I'll definitely have to try that out :)

  • I should probably mention I usually make huge batches of chili. (I have a 6-quart crockpot and was competing in a chili cookoff.) If you want to try my method for a smaller batch of chili, you could probably do half and half and make some with your recipe for other uses as well.

  • I ended up doing a boiled/steamed pumpkin puree for my pumpkin chili this weekend. If making a soup or stew or chili, or if you don't have a (working) oven, I recommend this method. It takes about the same time, plus you can use some of the excess pumpkin water in the dish itself.

  • thanks for sharing, i would like to try this with your pumpkin smoothie recipe, what temperature did you set your oven to cook the pumpkin for 30 minutes

  • Hi Marina! For my puree, I baked it at 400 degrees. I've seen lots of variations on the web - longer cooking times, lower temperature - but this worked perfectly well for me. A smaller pumpkin may take less time to bake, so if you're using a small/pie pumpkin, I might check it after 20 minutes. I hope that helps :)

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