How to Make Pumpkin Puree
This time of year, it’s hard to miss the onslaught of pumpkin-flavored foods and desserts. Pumpkin pies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cheesecakes, pumpkin soups, just to name a few, are everywhere these days. With Thanksgiving being not too far away, you might find yourself wanting to make a pumpkin pie. Although you can find canned pumpkin at the grocery store, it’s actually not too hard to make some pumpkin puree at home.
The best types of pumpkins for baking with are sugar, baking, or pie pumpkins. Regular pumpkins, like you’d use to make jack-o-lanterns with, will work just fine, but sugar or pie pumpkins are smaller, have a sweeter flavor, and will create a pumpkin puree with a smoother texture. A 4-pound pumpkin should make about 1½ cups of puree.
Once you have your pumpkins, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, wash and dry the pumpkins, and slice off the stem before cutting the pumpkin in half. It doesn’t matter if you cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom or across the middle. Scoop out the seeds and stringy material and place the pumpkin halves flat side down on a baking sheet. If the pumpkin halves are too big for your baking sheets, you can cut them down further into quarters. Bake for about an hour and a half or until the pumpkin is soft when poked with a knife or fork. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let it cool.
When done, the pumpkin skin should be very easy to separate from the rest of the pumpkin. Simply peel the skin off, break the rest of the pumpkin into pieces, and put it in a food processor or blender and puree it until smooth. A hand-held blender or potato masher will also get the job done. Depending on the size of your pumpkins and food processor/blender, you may have to puree a little bit at a time, which is fine. If your puree seems to have excess moisture, you can strain it with a sieve or a piece of cheesecloth.
If you don’t have a need to use your pumpkin puree right away, you can divide it into freezer bags and freeze it so it will be on hand when you do need it later on. Just make sure to note how much pumpkin is stored in each bag so you can be sure you’re thawing the right amount you need for your recipe.