Written by Lynn Craig.
When fall crisps the air and chills the nights, my thoughts invariably turn to pumpkins. For some reason I start craving pumpkin dishes. Pumpkin pie is a natural, yes, but I start dreaming of ways I can put pumpkin in all baked goods.
Muffins, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls are just the beginning for me. I’ve been known to wake from a sound sleep and scribble something on my bedside notepad that in the morning looks like it may or may not say pumpkin pudding.
To fuel this hectic pumpkin mania in my kitchen, I need a lot of pumpkin. Of course, it is easy to just pick up a can of pumpkin at the grocery store. I frequently go this route and won’t think less of you if you choose to do so.
It is fun, however, to take a pumpkin you’ve picked, bake it, purée it, and then turn it into your own dream pumpkin creation.
Baking pumpkins is super simple. You only need a pumpkin, a rimmed baking sheet, a sheet of aluminum foil, and an oven.
How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Purée
ALL Photos by Lynn Craig
There are jack-o-lantern pumpkins and pie pumpkins. I chose an organically grown pie pumpkin. What’s the difference?
- Pie pumpkins are smaller than jack-o-lantern pumpkins. They also have more flesh, hence a smaller cavity inside and fewer seeds.
- Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are bigger and because they’re grown for size, tend to have stringier flesh and are more watery.
Trust me: keep the jack-o-lanterns for carving and for roasting the seeds; bake the pie pumpkin.
Using a long sharp knife, cut your pumpkin in half horizontally. The outside of my pumpkin was very tough, so I used the stab and saw technique. A serrated knife or a hand saw can also be employed. Use whatever works for you and allows all your fingers to stay attached.
Preheat the oven to 350° F (200 C) with a rack in the center of the oven.
Scoop out the guts of the pumpkin, putting the seeds aside to toast later. You don’t want to miss out on those!
Lay the pumpkin halves, cut side down, on the rimmed baking sheet. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the halves and gently turn it under at the edges to secure it.
Bake the pumpkin for about 90 minutes. If it’s a smaller pumpkin, it won’t take as long. When it’s done, the skin should yield to gentle pressure and the flesh should be soft.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow it to cool till it’s just warm.
Scoop out the flesh using a broad spoon (often the skin will peel right off) and put it into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the pulp till it’s smooth and even-textured. If you prefer, you can use an immersion blender for this step.
You could use your purée right away, but I like to put it in a strainer to drain off some of the liquid. (Save the liquid and use it in breads, muffins, or pancakes!). You could put it in cheesecloth or a coffee filter, but I just put mine straight in the fine sieve and it wasn’t a problem.
Storing your pumpkin purée
To save it for later use, the easiest method is to put a pre-measured amount into a zip-loc bag or a freezer-safe container. Label it with the date, the contents, and the amount, then pop it into the freezer.
You can also freeze the purée in glass canning jars; just be sure to leave a good inch of headspace to allow for expansion when it freezes.
Now that you see how easy it is to make your own pumpkin purée, I’m sure you’re eager to try it also. When your kitchen is full of pumpkin purée, here are a few recipes from some of my favorite blogs to tempt your palate. Have fun!
- Pumpkin-Cinnamon Streusel Buns :: Cookie Baker Lynn
- Pumpkin Chiffon Pie :: Guilty Kitchen
- Chilled Pumpkin Cheesecake :: Simple Bites
- Olive Oil Pumpkin Cake :: More than Burnt Toast
- Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream :: Recipe Girl
- Pumpkin Caramel Bars with Bacon :: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
What’s your favorite way to use pumpkin purée?