Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pumpkin Puree

I was recently talking to a dear girlfriend of mine and mentioned that I had just made a large batch of pumpkin puree. Her immediate comment was, "Do you know they sell canned pumpkin at the store?" Now I may not be the sharpest girl, but I could easily tell what her question meant..."Why bother?"

Well, I bother because 1) I always prefer the taste of homemade over canned for anything, 2) I like my family to eat whole foods without additives or preservatives whenever possible, 3) the cost of canned pumpkin is greater than the cost of making your own, and 4) there are so many wonderful recipes out there that require pumpkin puree.

When making pumpkin puree, consider the fact that the smaller the pumpkin, the better the taste.  I recommend choosing pumpkins about 6-8 inches in diameter. Also consider that if you are going through the effort of making pumpkin puree, use enough pumpkins to make it worth your while; I used 4 pumpkins and that produced approximately 10 cups of puree.  When roasting the pumpkin, we want to retain as pure of a pumpkin taste as possible; therefore, do not add salt, spices, cooking spray, or oil of any kind.  The main reason for making pumpkin puree is for recipes, possibly a wide range of recipes, and the spices, oils, and salt can be added at that time.

Pumpkins, as many as you desire
Freezer-strength, quart-size Ziplock baggies
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position racks on top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of the oven.  Cut off the top and stem of each pumpkin. Cut each pumpkin in half and remove all the seeds and stringy insides. Cut pumpkins into half again and then place each pumpkin section onto cookie sheets. (I used 2 cookie sheets for my 4 pumpkins.)

2.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until fork-tender.  Remove from oven and allow to fully cool

3.   Cut the pumpkin skin from each pumpkin section.  Discard the skin and place the pulp in a large bowl. 

4.  Place small batches of pumpkin pulp into a food processor and puree until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon water if necessary, that is if it appears the pumpkin is so thick that it does not seem to be pureeing effectively in food processor.  Place pumpkin puree into a large bowl and repeat until all pulp is pureed.

5.  To store, open freezer-strength Ziplock baggie and fold edges over.  Add 1 cup pumpkin puree into each Ziplock baggie, remove air, and seal.  I find that it is most convenient to store pumpkin puree in 1 cup units because that is what is generally called for in recipes.  You may place any quantity you desire into each baggie.

6.  Store in freezer for up to 6-12 months.  Thaw to room temperature before using.


hands full said...

OK- Mama Hollioni - which pumpkins do you use - I understand that some varieties are better for cooking and some, just are not... L
PS. I have always been a can girl -but you might incourage me to try it the hard way :)

Mamahollioni said...

I looked this up just for you. According to, there are two basic types of pumpkins: 1) decorative pumpkins, and 2) culinary pumpkins. While both types may be eaten, there is a big difference between them.

The flesh tends to be bland, watery, and fibrous in the "Decorative Pumpkins" avoid big pumpkins that are typically carved into jack-o-lanterns.

"Culinary pumpkins" have firmer flesh and a sweeter taste. Among the best of the culinary pumpkins are the Small Sugar, Winter Luxury, Cheese, Golden Cushaw, and Rouge Vif d'Etampes (also known as the Cinderella pumpkin).

Unless you're growing your own, you may have a hard time finding anything other than the Small Sugar pumpkin, which is also known as the New England Pie, Northern Pie, and Sugar Pie.