Up until a few weeks ago I had been living under the impression that making your own pumpkin puree was hard. Like, so wildly hard that there was no reason to ever attempt it. Have you ever made pumpkin puree from scratch? I just didn’t see the reason to do it, and this coming from someone who has made her own butter. And then I was talking to one of my colleagues from work and everything changed.
We were talking about what we were going to make for the upcoming cake sale (where I made pumpkin butterscotch cookies), and we got to talking about cooking with pumpkin. She said she’d made a pumpkin pie once and that she had made her own puree. I was gobsmacked. And then we had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: What?! You made the pumpkin puree?!
Her: Yeah, how else do you do it?
Me: Get it from a can!
And then we both looked at each other slightly confused. At least, that’s how I remember it.
Needless to say, after this conversation I felt a little silly. Why was I so dependent on a can? Where had I learned that making my own pumpkin puree would be so hard? Now I was determined to try it out for myself.
What I learned is, the hardest part of making your own pumpkin puree is ensuring that you don’t get attached to your pumpkin. I went to Waitrose with my friend Sarah and picked out what I thought was fine pumpkin. She pointed out it was ugly looking on one side. I said, “It’s fine, we’re going to eat it.” And then I got home and told Ryan I bought a pumpkin. He got excited and asked if we were going to carve it. “No,” I said, “we’re going to eat it.” A word of advice to you my friend: don’t name it, don’t carve it, don’t get attached to your pumpkin!
Even though I wasn’t carving the pumpkin, preparing the pumpkin for cooking starts much the same way. You slice off the top and then scoop out the insides. I cut the pumpkin in half before scooping out the insides. Save the seeds if you’re into that. Then cut your pumpkin in quarters and put on a roasting pan to then cook the slices in the oven. Put the slices in the oven plain – no seasoning or oil. This is so you have the purest pumpkin puree, which I think is really the reason to make this yourself. Sure, opening a can is easier but by making this yourself you’re getting the freshest ingredients with no unknown or unnecessary additives.
When choosing a pumpkin buy one on the smaller side. Save that big impressive gigantic pumpkin for carving. My research said that big pumpkins result in less flavor and a less pleasant texture. This guy here weighed 1.2 kg (2.64 pounds) and resulted in 393 grams (about 1 3/4 cups) of puree. This is probably just slightly less than what you’d get in a can from the super market. The end result was really tasty (because yes, I ate some plain with a spoon). It’s smooth, but less perfectly smooth than a can. I credit that with magical additives used in the canning factory plus also my food processor is mediocre.
What I like best about making my own pumpkin puree is how excited I am to use it. I am itching to make a pumpkin pie and I think I’ll be especially proud when the finish product is extra homemade.
Adapted from the Pioneer Woman.
Messy level: I am giving this four spoons only because I hate, hate, hate cleaning the food processor. It’s so many pieces and such a pain! Also, it’s a little messy in peeling the pumpkin. Some pieces of skin just peeled off, and some fought back a little. It was annoying, but it was a good excuse to taste test what was stuck to my hands.
- 1 smallish pumpkin (or more depending on desired final amount)
- water, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Cut the top of the pumpkin off near the stem. About 1" of the top cut off is fine.
- Cut the pumpkin in half.
- Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds and inner gunk. You can throw this away or set the seeds aside to roast if you like that.
- Cut the cleaned pumpkin in half again so you have 4 pumpkin quarters.
- Put the pumpkin quarters on to a roasting pan.
- Roast the pumpkin for 45 minutes or until you can easily stick a fork into the flesh.
- Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool until you can safely handle them.
- Use a knife, a peeler, or your hands to remove the pumpkin skin. It will mostly come off easily, and where it's difficult just use a peeler.
- Put the pumpkin flesh into a food processor and blend until smooth. If you notice your pumpkin is too dry then you can add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until you have your desired consistency. (I added 2 tablespoons of water) If you're finding your pumpkin is too wet you can strain off some of that liquid after you're done with the food processor.
- Transfer your pumpkin puree to a bowl if you're going to use immediately or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator if you'll be using it later.