It all started with Curious George.
Storytime in our house is always an interesting time. It usually involves me reading while my little ones ask ten thousand questions. The conversations can be about anything from what are clouds made of to the most recent, what’s pumpkin pie taste like?
Curious George was eating a pumpkin pie and my husband pipes in, “Can you make a pumpkin pie?” I was ecstatic! My family never asks for any specific food. Let alone a vegetable! I’m counting pie as a vegetable in this instance. It’s an ingredient, right?
Before we make a pie, we need to make the pumpkin puree. Let’s go to the chalkboard.
Here’s how to make pumpkin puree from scratch
Off I went to get a pumpkin. My plan was to get a sugar pumpkin. A farm stand, grocery store, and nursery later I finally found the perfect pumpkin. It’s not a sugar pumpkin though. It’s a cheese pumpkin. The owner of the garden center insisted that’s the way
Local to Long Island, a cheese pumpkin is a pale orange, almost pink in color and the shape is reminiscent of a cheese wheel. It’s preferred in baking to sugar pumpkins because it produces a smooth texture when baked. Sugar pumpkins can be stringy when baked and I don’t want stringy pumpkin puree. So if you can find it, a cheese pumpkin is the best one to bake.
So pumpkin bought, perhaps overbought — 11 pounds!! Now, how the heck do you cook it? The first step is to cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise. My chef’s knife was no match for this beast of a pumpkin. Enter my husband and the S
A few minutes and we had a pumpkin sliced in half. Your pumpkin will most likely be smaller so you can certainly use your chef’s knife to cut it.
Recipe for Pumpkin Puree
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and remove the seeds and strings from the pumpkin. Make some shallow cuts with a knife to the outside of the pumpkin.
Place your pumpkin on a rimmed baking sheet cut side down. Pour some water on the baking sheet. This will help steam the pumpkin and get it nice and soft. Cook in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until the pumpkin is easily pierced with a paring knife. My pumpkin was so large that I cooked it on two baking sheets.
Remove from the oven until cool enough to handle.
Now, this is important. You will find the pumpkin puree to be a little watery. To combat this, place the pumpkin filled pot over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the excess moisture is evaporated. Do not skip this step. This is what gives your puree some thickness. I still had some water after about 15 minutes so I strained it out.
How to Store/Freeze Pureed Pumpkin
So you’ve made your fresh pumpkin puree. Yay!! My eleven-pound pumpkin yielded about 8 cups of puree. We can’t possibly eat that in one sitting so it’s best to store it. The puree will last several days in the refrigerator. If you aren’t going to use it right away, it’s best to store it in the freezer.
Since most recipes call for 2 cups of puree, that’s how I portioned it. I then vacuum sealed them using my trusty vacuum sealer. You can also place it in a freezer Ziploc bag, just be sure to remove as much air as possible from the bag before freezing.
Pumpkin Puree vs. Canned Pumpkin
At the end of the day, canned pumpkin and pumpkin puree are the the same thing. They taste exactly the same. You look at the list of ingredients and most canned pumpkin will have only one ingredient — pumpkin. I’ve found no difference between the puree I made and canned pumpkin.
Now, canned pumpkin pie mix is different. This is a puree, combined with sugar and spices. I don’t recommend using this. You can easily use canned pumpkin while making a recipe, just add the spices and sugar yourself. This gives you the control over how it tastes. If you have a well-stocked pantry, the spices are already there.
So while I can thank Curious George for what was a really fun experience to make pumpkin puree from scratch, I can honestly say that canned pumpkin is just as good.
Have you made your own pumpkin puree? Prefer the canned stuff?
I’ll update you on the rest of my pumpkin pie making in a future post.