Homemade Pumpkin Puree Another Way to Kick the Can
I’d been staring down the French Red Pumpkin perched in the corner of my kitchen for weeks, ever since we picked it up at the pumpkin patch in mid October. I’d had big plans for that pumpkin — a creamy soup with brown butter perhaps, pumpkin flan, a seasonal pasta with toasted pumpkin seeds. But the pumpkin was a beast — a good 10 pounds — and I knew its size and hard exterior would make it a bear to tame with even my biggest knife. So it continued to sit, untouched, week after week, as the pressure to “do something” built.
Yesterday, it overcame me, so I hastily decided to skip my traditional method for cutting and cooking a pumpkin, and just put the whole 10-pounder into the oven and waited to see what would happen.
Here’s what: an “easy as pumpkin pie” method for making pumpkin puree.
This is how it looked after it was cooked:
I set it in the sink to cool for 30 minutes, then cut it into quarters.
What resulted was this bright beautiful pumpkin flesh in the strainer.
And plenty of of pumpkin “water” in the bowl. I was in homesteading mode, so for a brief moment considered all manner of what to do with that pumpkin water.
Save it in ice cube trays for smoothies?
Use it to enrich future soups and stews?
Swap it out for tap water in all of my Thanksgiving bouquets?
Turn it into an antioxidant-rich creme rinse?
But that passed. The silky, sweet, tender, home-roasted pumpkin puree was as survivalist as I was going to get. Now, onto cooking that soup, flan, and seasonal pasta.
A few notes: Sugar Pumpkin is the variety typically used for pumpkin pie and other baked goods. They are much smaller than the type I used it my experiment and have far less moisture, so they will cook more quickly and may require little or no straining. French Red Pumpkins (also called Rouge d’Estampes or Cinderella Pumpkins) have a lot of liquid and so are often used for soup, but when strained, work beautifully in baked goods, too.
The basic method is as follows:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Wash the exterior of the pumpkin and set it on a baking sheet with sides.
- Spear the pumpkin through to the center a few times with a sharp knife so the steam can release as it cooks.
- Roast the pumpkin until it is tender enough to easily spear with a knife. When it’s done, it should feel as tender as spearing a fresh peach. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin.
- Let it cool. Cut into quarters. Scoop seeds and string. Scrape the flesh from the pumpkin skin and puree in a blender.
- If there is a lot of liquid in the puree (especially if you are using the French Red variety) and you are planning to bake with it, put it in a strainer set over a bowl and leave it in the fridge all day or overnight to drain. You could also line an ordinary colander with cheese cloth if you don’t have a fine strainer.
- Store the pumpkin puree in a covered container in the fridge and use within one week or freeze for up to three months.