How to make pumpkin puree


Photo credit: Tim Mossholder

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… 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:

1 Pumpkin spice mix

2 Homemade pumpkin puree

3 Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

4 Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

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

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10 thoughts on “How to make pumpkin puree

  1. Chrissy says:

    You mentioned that pumpkins will keep all winter if stored properly. Just curious what the proper storing environment is. I want to buy some extra pumpkins to cook up but it may be a bit before I can get to them.
    Also, do you store your puree plain or do you season any of it before storing? If so, what seasonings do you use?

  2. Angela says:

    For maximum storage life, keep pumpkins out of sunlight and in a cool dry place where air ciruclates freely. A dry basement is great. It can be a little humid, you just don’t want pooling water. I store my puree plain. I have a bunch of pumpkins now to cook up too, but it could be near Thanksgiving before I get the moment. Have fun with yours :).

  3. Sheri W says:

    So the puree is equivalent to the packed pumpkin in the can? This sounds great! I gotta go buy some pumpkins! I love to make pumpkin stuff year round and we even use the canned pumpkin to help our dogs when their fiber is low!

  4. Angela says:

    Yes! About 2 scant cups is equal to one can of pumpkin. It used to be 2 full cups, but they are making the cans smaller and smaller so they can charge us the same and make the same profit.

  5. Carol H. says:

    Thanks for this info. I grew pumpkins in my garden this past summer. Got 4 big ones. So I could use these to cook from? (I thought that only little “pie pumpkins” were for cooking).
    Also, not all of them got all the way orange.(They are orange and green). I didn’t get them started soon enough in the spring. Can they still be used?

  6. Angela says:

    Yes you can cook all of them. A few of my pie pumkins have a little green on the oustide, but I plan to use them anyway. As long as the inside isn’t green I’m good with it :).

  7. Rose says:

    Angela, This is kind of a funny question, but when you run the pumpkin through the mill does the outside skin go into the puree as well? Thanks!

  8. Angela says:

    It doesn’t! The mill gets all the goody off the skin and the skin comes out the other end. I did notice a few dark flecks in the puree from the skin, but they were soft and still smooth. I used a kitchen aid food mill that attaches to the mixer.

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