Pumpkin really is the true fruit that represents fall. We pick them, carve them, decorate them, and they are incorporated into so many seasonal dishes for autumn. Now this isn’t a flavor I have ever baked with before. Although I am the baker in the household, my father is always the one who makes pumpkin pie come Thanksgiving. So I decided that I wanted to fool around with pumpkin in my cooking! But of course I wasn’t going to use canned pumpkin in my baking, hence the post about homemade pumpkin purée! And with this pumpkin purée you can pretty much incorporate it into anything to give a recipe a nice twist of fall. I used this for my Pumpkin Scones and had a whopping eight cups of purée left for my dad to use for his pumpkin pie! It freezes great and is the best alternative for that canned stuff, who knows how long that has been sitting there for!!
To begin you’re going to want to select a pumpkin. There’s couple key elements to think about when choosing the pumpkin:
- Choose a pumpkin that has consistent coloring throughout.
- Flip the pumpkin over and apply pressure to the bottom with your thumbs. If it gives in, the pumpkin is not fresh.
- Look for spots or punctured flesh, this can indicate early spoilage. Also, run your fingernail over the flesh of the pumpkin–the flesh should be strong enough so your fingernail can’t rip the rind off.
- Lastly, look for a pumpkin with the stem on. A green stem indicates a freshly harvested pumpkin. The stem should also be dry and solid, if it is able to bend or give way it isn’t fresh.
In this case I used a Jack O’lantern Pumpkin but for pies you should use a sugar pie pumpkin, they are sturdier and less grainy. Regardless my purée turned out very smooth, so just use what you’re comfortable with. Wash the outside of your pumpkin thoroughly.
Next you are going to want to commit pumpkin murder. I know, I know…I’m slightly evil for doing this, but I’m just following the rules of the food chain! Halve the pumpkins then cut the stems off. Scoop out all the pulp and the seeds (and dont you dare throw them away–check out my recipes for roasted pumpkin seeds!). Cut each half into quarters.
Places the pumpkin quarters onto cookie sheets. Place in a 350°F oven and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The size of your pumpkin will determine how long it will take to roast, but they will be done when the pumpkin is fork-tender.
When the pumpkins are done they will be slightly browned and tender. Use a knife to scrape away the skin from the meat, this can be also done with your hands. If some parts of the pumpkin are a bit too tough just cut it away. Believe me, you will have plenty of pumpkin to spare.
Now just take all that delicious pumpkin meat and toss it into a food processor. The purée can also be done with a potato masher, food mill, potato ricer..whatever tickles you pink! Just pulse the pumpkin until it becomes a beautiful, smooth mixture. You may need to add some water to get the purée going a bit, the less water the better so add a little at a time. If the purée comes out too watery just strain it on a cheese cloth or over a fine mesh strainer…and Voilà, you’ve got some tasty homemade pumpkin purée!
This can be used for immediate use in a recipe, stored in the refrigerator for one week or in the freezer for later use!