With Halloween and Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's time to make pumpkin puree! Each year, I make lots of pumpkin puree, to be stored in the freezer. Lots of pumpkin pie clafoutis, pumpkin spice bread, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, and pumpkin crumble will keep us happy over the winter. Homemade pumpkin puree is more delicious and healthy than canned pumpkin.
My method for homemade pumpkin puree is simple: bake whole, scoop, and puree! You can use any type of winter squash you like, such as pumpkin, hubbard squash, and butternut squash. I typically use either Sugar Pie Pumpkins or Long Island Cheese Pumpkins.
Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Baking pumpkins whole is the easiest way to cook them. It does take a while, but it is so much easier than trying to cut up the pumpkins when they're raw and uber hard.
Place the whole pumpkins on your oven rack in the middle of the oven. Make sure to wash your pumpkins first if they have any soil clinging to them. I place a cookie sheet underneath the pumpkins in the oven just in case of any drips.
Bake for several hours at 200 degrees F. A ten pound pumpkin will take about 3-4 hours to cook. Larger pumpkins will take 4-5 hours. A small pie pumpkin should be done in 2-3 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 cut the pumpkins in half. This allows the water and heat in the pumpkin to be released. Let cool for awhile.
Scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy bits.
Being careful to not get any of the skin, scoop out the soft flesh with a spoon and place it into a food processor.
Use the food processor to turn the pumpkin flesh into beautiful puree. This may take several batches depending on the size of your pumpkin and food processor. You may need to use the "Pulse" feature occasionally throughout the processing time, to allow any large chunks to get moved down next to the blade. If you are making a large amount of puree, you may need to let your food processor rest a bit between batches so it doesn't get overheated.
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. I like to freeze my pumpkin puree in wide-mouth mason jars (making sure to leave headspace at the top of each jar).
What are your favorite ways to use pumpkin puree?
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