With Halloween and Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's time to make pumpkin puree. Homemade pumpkin puree is much more tasty than the canned variety.
My method for homemade pumpkin puree is simple: bake whole, scoop, and puree! Each year, I make lots of pumpkin puree, to be stored in the freezer. Lots of pumpkin pie clafoutis, pumpkin spice bread, and pumpkin crumble will keep us happy over the winter.
You can use any type of winter squash you like, such as pumpkin, hubbard squash, and butternut squash. My favorite type of pumpkin to use for puree is NOT the sugar pie pumpkin. It is actually a variety of pumpkin called the Long Island Cheese. This pumpkin has vibrant orange flesh and excellent sweet flavor.
Baking whole pumpkins is the easiest way to cook them. It does take a while, but it is so much easier than trying to cut up a raw pumpkin as they are VERY hard before they are cooked.
- Place the whole pumpkins on your oven rack. I place a cookie sheet underneath just in case of any drips.
- Bake for several hours at 200 degrees F. A ten pound pumpkin will take about 3 hours to cook. Larger pumpkins will take closer to 4 hours. A small pie pumpkin should be done in 1-2 hours.
- To test for doneness, wrap your hands with a dish towel and gently squeeze the pumpkins. Check them on multiple sides (and you may even need to rotate the pumpkins partway through if you cook more than one at a time, like I do). If the pumpkins are soft enough to squeeze a bit, then they are done!
- Remove from the oven and place on a cookie sheet or large baking tray (such as a 9X13 glass dish). Carefully use a knife to make a slice down one side of the pumpkin, slicing all the way down to the bottom. This allows the water and heat in the pumpkin to be released. Let cool for awhile.
- Once cool enough to touch, finish cutting the pumpkin in half. This is amazingly easy to do since the pumpkin has already been cooked. Scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy bits.
- Being careful to not get any of the skin, scoop the soft flesh out with a spoon and place it into a food processor. Let the food processor whir the flesh to make a beautiful puree. This may take several batches depending on the size of your pumpkin and food processor.
- Store the puree in airtight containers. Keep it in the fridge if it will be used in the next few days. Otherwise, store it in the freezer, where it will last for many months.