Since the whole world seems to be in the midst of pumpkin mania I thought it was about time that I share a fun DIY that really shows you how to put a humble little pumpkin to good use. Pumpkin puree is a hot item right now at the grocery store! It is used to make pumpkin muffins, pumpkin spice latte’s, pumpkin pancakes, and pumpkin loaf. I am sure I am forgetting a few things pumpkin puree is used in…maybe more like a million things, but you get the gist of what I am saying. It is literally flying off of super market shelves at alarming rates and shows no sign of slowing down.
I am totally guilty of having a stockpile of canned organic pumpkin puree in the pantry, but in year’s past, especially when I was making baby food for my kids, I would make homemade pumpkin puree and it is SO easy that I wanted to share it here with all of you. You can use homemade pumpkin puree just like you would use store bought except you get the added bonus of claiming that the pumpkin creation you make really is from scratch!
Let me show you how easy it is to make homemade pumpkin puree!
Step 1: Select the perfect pumpkin.
Sugar pie pumpkins are the best variety for making pumpkin puree. Their dark orange-colored flesh is nice and sweet when roasted and their small size makes them easy to handle, too! Avoid using big field pumpkins that are perfect for carving jack o’ lanterns, but not for cooking with. For this kitchen project those carving pumpkins are just too big and bulky to work with and tend to be stringy which doesn’t make for the smoothest puree. Also, keep in mind that a 4-lb sugar pumpkin will yield approximately 1 1/2 cups of puree so, if your recipe calls for more than that you may have to prepare more pumpkins.
Step 2: Cut the top off of the pumpkin removing the stem.
Step 3: Cut the pumpkin in half.
Step 4: Remove the seeds and strings.
I like to use an old metal serving spoon for this. Mine has a thin, sharp edge which makes for easy scraping and removal of the pumpkin innards. You can use a regular, thicker edged serving spoon for this task too, it will just take a bit of elbow grease. Don’t toss out the seeds though, they make a great roasted snack!
Step 5: Cut the halves into quarters and arrange on a baking sheet.
I usually place all of my pumpkin wedges with the flesh facing up, but it really doesn’t matter. They can be faced either way on the baking sheet and will roast up just fine. I don’t add any oil or seasoning at all to the pumpkin wedges because I want to achieve pure unadulterated pumpkin flavor.
Step 6: Roast the pumpkin wedges until fork-tender.
Roast the pumpkin in a 350°F oven for 40-55 minutes, depending on the size of your pumpkin, until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork all the way through to the skin. Let cool.
Step 7: Peel the skin from the wedges.
The skin on the pumpkin wedges will begin to release from the flesh as it roasts and should appear wrinkly and possibly blistered when you remove it from the oven. Some of the skin will be loose enough that you can peel it off with your fingers while some will be a little more stubborn. For the stubborn bits you can simply run a butter knife in between the flesh and the skin to easily separate them.
Step 8: Puree the roasted pumpkin.
Place the roasted pumpkin into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade or a high speed blender and process until smooth. Now this step has a few key points you should know; not all pumpkins are the same. So, just in case you run into an extra watery or super dry pumpkin here is what you should do.
- If the pumpkin is too dry to puree on its own add a tablespoon of water at a time to get the blades moving.
- If the pumpkin is really wet when you puree it you may need to strain it through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth before using.
This particular pumpkin worked out perfect once it was roasted and didn’t require any additional steps. Yay!!
You can now use your pumpkin puree in any recipe that you would like or you can portion it out and freeze it so that you have it when you need. Just be sure you mark how much is in each frozen portion so that you know.