How to Make Pumpkin Puree
Every spring we put a couple of pumpkin plants in the garden of our weekend house, a cozy retreat from city life, which we refer to as “the creek house.” The place is located not far from Half Moon Bay, ostensibly the pumpkin growing capital of the U.S., so it has never come as a surprise that our pumpkins always thrive there, keeping us in pies and muffins throughout the fall.
A Pumpkin Patch
This year we upped the ante and planted not just a few seedlings, but an entire pumpkin patch replete with sugar pie and rouge d’estampes pumpkins for eating, little dumpling pumpkins for decorating, and big carving pumpkins for Halloween. By September I was counting the days until we would begin harvesting. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. Turns out a small pack of wild boar came upon my beloved pumpkins and took out the entire patch before I could get to it. They left behind a single, four-pound sugar pumpkin, just enough for a couple of Thanksgiving pies.
I’m mourning my pumpkin patch, but grateful for my lone pumpkin. I’ll roast and puree it next week. Why not join me in making your Thanksgiving pie with a real, honest to goodness pumpkin, too?
Upside of Fresh Pumpkin
Starting with a whole pumpkin versus a can is pretty darn satisfying, not to mention the fact that it’s superior in taste and you get all those pumpkin seeds for roasting. Pumpkin is also enormously nutritious, rich in vitamin A, potassium, as well as iron. Besides all that, making your own pumpkin puree gives you major bragging rights with dinner guests and you can show the kids that their Thanksgiving pie comes from an actual pumpkin.
Tips for Making your Own Pumpkin Puree
If you’ve never cooked a pumpkin from scratch, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be sure to buy of a sugar pumpkin, available at farmer’s markets, organic markets, and many supermarkets. The ones sitting on your front stoop for the past month are stringier, more watery, and lack the flavor of a good cooking pumpkin.
- To save time on the big day, do all of your pumpkin prep one or two days ahead and keep it in the fridge. Or cook it even sooner, seal it, and store it in the freezer, where it will keep for up to three months.
- Once your pumpkin is pureed, you may want to strain it a bit. Canned pumpkin is quite thick and dense, with no visible liquid. Since most recipes are developed using canned, you want your pumpkin to be similar. Simply transfer the puree to a sieve or colander lined with cheese cloth set over a bowl for about 20 minutes. This is particularly important if you using another variety of pumpkin, such as rouge d’estampes, which have more liquid than a sugar pumpkin.
“How To” On Cooking a Pumpkin
Now, as for cooking your pumpkin, the recipe below will guide you on your way. And as far as those wild boar go? I’m thinking pork sausage might be awfully tasty in the stuffing this year.
Recipes using Pumpkin Puree
- For pie recipes, this Classic Pumpkin Pie from Cooking Light earned household-wide raves using a graham cracker crust. Plus, it’s light enough to pass for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving.
- Pumpkin Pie with Brown Sugar Walnut Topping from Bon Appetit is delicious if you are looking for something a little more decadent.
- These Baked Pumpkin Donuts can’t be beat for a morning treat.
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Bread is easy and wholesome.
- If you have extra puree, you might find 6 Tasty Ideas for using Leftover Pumpkin may come in handy.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree from a Whole Pumpkin
- 1 four-pound sugar pie pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Cut the pumpkin in half down the center. Set the 2 halves, cut-side-down on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet.
Bake until the pumpkin flesh is very tender (so tender you can easily mash it with a fork), about 50 to 60 minutes.
Let it cool enough to handle. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Save the seeds for roasting or discard. Then, scoop the flesh away from the skin and put it straight into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Discard the skin.
Run the processor until the pumpkin is a smooth puree, a minute or so. If you don't have a food processor, you can do this with a blender, hand blender, or potato masher.
If the puree looks thin or watery and you are using it for a recipe calling for canned pumpkin, transfer it to a sieve or cheese cloth-lined colander set over a bowl to allow some of the liquid to drain off.
Store pumpkin puree in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for 3 months. If any liquid has separated from the solids, simply strain it off through a sieve or cheese cloth lined colander.