Roasting and pureeing your own pumpkin is an easy, but essential step in making any delicious or nutritious pumpkin-flavored recipe. It even freezes well, so savvy pumpkin lovers can keep an eye out for low prices, roast up a huge batch all at once and store their bounty safely in the deep freeze until it's time to party.
Start off by picking out a good-looking pumpkin. You don't want a massive Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin for this purpose or any kind of frilly decorative gourd. While those pumpkins might work in a pinch, or in some cases even be superior in flavor (see: cinderella pumpkins) what we are going for in THIS recipe is a classic pumpkin flavor and an easy method. Look for pumpkins called "pie pumpkins" or "sugar pumkins". They should be around eight to ten inches wide and eight to ten inches tall.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Set the pumpkin sideways on a cutting board and slice off its stem. Use a sharp knife and remember to keep your fingers out of harm's way. This part is a little dicey.
- Next, set the pumpkin upright, on it's little pumpkin bottom, and slice that bad boy in half. Crack the halves open and then place them cut-side down on a lined baking sheet.
- Roast the pumpkin until the flesh is very soft - a little softer than fork tender. This will take between forty and sixty minutes and will vary depending on the size of your pumpkin.
- After removing the pumpkin from the oven it will need to sit until it is cool enough to be handled. Once the excess heat has been released (about fifteen minutes) you can turn the pumpkin over and scoop out the seeds. Reserve the seeds for making a yummy snack or discard them. (I'm in no position to judge.)
- Scrape the flesh from the pumpkin rind and pop it into a blender or food processor. Pulse until well mashed and then puree until smooth. Try to resist adding water if you can avoid it. If it is too sticky or thick, try adding a few drops at a time until things get moving.
- When the puree has fully cooled it can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. I like to freeze it in one or two cup batches since recipes often call for it in those amounts. The puree will last for about one week in the fridge and for about three months in the freezer.
Tip: Sometimes homemade pumpkin puree comes out much wetter than canned puree. The difference in moisture can wreak havoc in certain recipes - especially in pasta or baked goods. To give your homemade puree a more similar consistency to canned puree you'll need to cook out the extra moisture. Simmer the puree on the stove top on low heat or put it in a crock pot on low. Slowly cook the puree until it thickens up.