By now you know its Autumn, if only because your blog rolls are filling with pumpkin recipes ad nauseam, and yes, I know Cork and Spoon is not exactly helping [ADD pumpkin bourbon link!]. But can you blame us addicts? Pumpkin is tasty, versatile, incredibly healthy, and comes – conveniently – pre-pureed in 15-ounce cans. Heck, I probably have 5 or 6 of them in my pantry right now for whipping up a quick batch of scones, pumpkin spätzle, or a savory pumpkin sauce.
About once a year though, right around Halloween, I see a beautiful stack of sugar pumpkins at the farmer’s market and I convince myself that I am a fool for not making pumpkin puree from scratch. Making your own pumpkin puree for cooking and baking is surprisingly easy, here let me show you.
The first, and most important thing, is picking your pumpkin. You will want to use a sugar, or pie, pumpkin. These average about 6 to 10 inches in size, much smaller than the pumpkins you carve for jack o’lanters. You want a pumpkin that is heavy for its size, unblemished, and free of soft spots. On average, each pound of unprepared pumpkin with its rind and seeds will yield 1 cup of puree.
While pumpkin puree can be made from any cooked pumpkin flesh, whether boiled, steamed, or microwaved, but I firmly believe that roasting the pumpkins provides the best flavor and requires the least amount of work, so that is the method I am going to describe here.
Begin by cutting the pumpkin in half from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy center. If you are a fan of pumpkin seeds, set aside the pumpkin guts to clean and bake the seeds later.
Brush the cut sides of the pumpkin lightly with neutral flavored oil, such as vegetable or canola oil, and place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with foil (for easy clean up).
Bake the pumpkin at 375ºF for 45 minutes to an hour – until a fork slides easily into the flesh of pumpkin. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool until in can be easily handled without burning your hand; I usually wait an hour.
Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the flesh. Use a blender to puree the flesh until silky smooth. Use the fresh puree with 48 hours or freeze to use later.