While canned pumpkin is really delicious, it’s super easy to make homemade pumpkin puree to use in all your fantastic recipes. Homemade puree freezes really well for year long stockpiling. Even though pumpkin pie, bread, doughnuts, pancakes, cookies, muffins…..dot our winter menus long after October, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas, the time to grab your pumpkins is now. Tourism pumpkin patches will till their pumpkins under the day after Halloween and it will be terribly hard to find one anywhere. If you buy them now, stored properly, they will keep long into the winter.
Any pumpkins will work, but the tiny ones have the sweetest most pumpkiny flavor. And the gray pumpkins have the darkest flesh. This one even had a sweet melon smell. And it doesn’t have to be pumpkin, butternut squash is in the same family and makes an even thicker, rosier puree.
First, Cut the stem out just like you were going to carve it. Then cut the whole thing in half. It’s much less messy to get the seeds out this way.
Then use a medium sized spoon to clean out the seeds. I take some time to separate the seeds from the pulp (as much as possible) with my fingers and put them in a colander to rinse. Then I toss them with a little oil and salt and roast. I use the instructions here.
If you are using the pumpkins to stuff with meat and veggies as a stew holder, leave them in half and just place in the crock pot with a little water in the bottom to help steam them. If your are going to puree them, cut them in fourths or eighths before cooking. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, check for donness by piercing with a fork. It should be very tender.
Notice in my pot how much darker the flesh of the gray pumpkin is compared to the traditional orange one.
For faster cooking, you can bake them in the oven in a covered roasting pan at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Or you can boil the pieces for 25 minutes.
Let the pumpkin cool just enough to be easy to handle. If you have an electric food mill (like with your kitchen aid mixer), you can put the pumkin through skin and all and beautiful puree will come out to use immediately or to bag in recipe size portions and freeze.
If you don’t have a food mill, remove the skin with a knife or spoon and put the pumpkin in your blender. Process until a smooth puree forms (not more than 2 minutes at a time without letting your blender rest.)
Homemade pumpkin puree is lighter in color than commercially produced puree, but it works just as well in recipes. If you feel your puree is too thin, you can put it in a fine wire strainer over a bowl and let some of the moisture drain out. If it is too thick for your taste, you can add small amounts of water until the consistency is right.
Pumpkins really do vary in texture and moisture content. The bowl on the left holds a gray ghost pumpkin puree, and the one on the right is from a traditional orange pumpkin.
Pumpkin puree is no longer considered safe for home canning, so it’s best to divide it up in 1 or 2 cup portions and freeze in freezer bags. It will keep all winter for you to bake to your hearts content. I’ve even used some I had frozen for several years. As long as I pressed all the air out so the puree wouldn’t freezer burn, it still tasted like I had just made it that day.
This is Day 2 of our series, 31 Days of Pumpkin Recipes. Here are the other recipes in the series:
2 Homemade pumpkin puree
5 Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
6 Pumpkin Bagels
7 Butternut Chicken Stew
8 Pumpkin French Toast Casserole
9 Healthy Pumpkin Pecan Scones
10 Streusel Top Pumpkin Muffins
11 Pumpkin Muffin/Drop Cookie Mix
12 Easy Pumpkin Cake
13 Pumpkin Dump Cake
14 Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
15 Pumpkin Mousse
16 Pumpkin Cheesecake
17 Pumpkin Latte
18 Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
19 Pumpkin Chili
20 Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies
21 Pumpkin Biscuits
22 Maple Pumpkin Butter
23 Stuffed Sugar Baby Pumpkins
24 Pumpkin Pancakes
25 Pumpkin Waffles
26 Pumpkin English Muffins
27 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
28 Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts
29 Pumpkin Biscotti
30 Pumpkin Caramel Monkey Bread
31 Impossible Pumpkin Pie