If you bought any of the smaller sugar pumpkins to decorate for fall, don’t toss them into the compost now that Thanksgiving has passed.
Homemade pumpkin puree couldn’t be easier to make. You’ll be shocked by the difference in the taste compared to canned pumpkin. Use in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.
Pumpkin puree is a super healthy ingredient. Until now, I have always stocked up on canned pumpkin when I see it on sale. I figured, since it is simply pureed pumpkin, it wouldn’t make much difference to buy it rather than making my own. That all changed when I discovered how easy it is to make homemade pumpkin puree.
Homemade pumpkin puree tastes remarkably better than canned — I’m talking lick-the-spoon tasty. Here’s how easy it is: Assuming you have a sheet pan and an oven, all you need to make homemade pumpkin puree is a 4-6 pound baking or pie pumpkin and some salt (kosher or sea salt). That’s it.
I consulted Alton Brown to make sure I had the method correct before my first batch. It really is a method and not a recipe.
To prepare the pumpkin, give the outside a rinse, pat it dry, then split it open across the middle. You can whack the stem off and go top to bottom, but there really is no need. You’ll be able to lift the stem clean off after the pumpkin bakes.
Clean out the “guts” by scooping out the seeds and mushy insides with a big spoon. (Keep the seeds for roasting; they make a nice snack.) Sprinkle the halves with salt, then lay them cut side down on a sheet pan and bake until soft.
In my opinion, this next bit is the coolest part: While it bakes, the skin darkens to a deep burnt orange and takes on this amazing leathery quality.
After the pumpkin has cooled to the touch, you simply lift the skin right off the pumpkin halves. Underneath that luxurious leathery shell, you should find two cheery yellow piles that look like bundt cakes.
From there, you simply puree until silky smooth. You may use a food processor, but I like to transfer the pumpkin to a bowl and use an immersion blender for easy cleanup. Store your homemade pumpkin puree in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.
Not just for pumpkin pies, homemade pumpkin puree can be used in all sorts of recipes, from savory to sweet. For instance, you can use pumpkin to make creamy sauce for pasta or bake it with oatmeal for a fun fall breakfast.
Homemade pumpkin puree
Homemade pumpkin puree couldn’t be easier to make. You’ll be shocked by the difference in the taste compared to canned pumpkin. Use in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. Store for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator or up to three months in the freezer.
Prep time: 10 minutes; cook time: 30 minutes; yields 4 cups.
1 4-5 pound pie pumpkin
salt (kosher or sea)
Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
Rinse and dry your pumpkin, then split it open through the center. Remove the seeds and membranes (keep the seeds for roasting if desired).
Sprinkle each half with a pinch of two of salt, then place cut side down on the parchment-lined pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until the flesh is soft in all areas. You should be able to easily slide a fork into the flesh with no resistance.
Allow the pumpkin to cool to the touch before removing the skin. Transfer the cooked pumpkin to a food processor and blend until smooth, or about 5 minutes. Alternately, you may transfer the pumpkin to a bowl and puree with an immersion blender.
Rose McAvoy is a Lynnwood-based weight loss lifestyle coach and recipe developer. She writes about weight loss and living healthy ever after at www.halfhersize.com. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.