Making Pumpkin Puree with Fresh Pumpkin – Keepin’ It Real!
It’s October! This is one of my favorite months. There’s Halloween right around the corner, one of the best holidays in the States I might add. The leaves are changing to all the brilliant hues of purple, red, gold, brown, and orange. The air is getting that crisp cold fresh scent of autumn. And there are pumpkins everywhere. So I decided to dedicate this month to all things Halloween and especially pumpkins because – well – pumpkins and Halloween are kind of like PB and J. You really can’t have one without the other or, more I should say, you can have one without the other but why would you want to?
So where’s the best place to start? At the beginning with the basics: a pumpkin puree. Have you ever had fresh pumpkin puree? Sure you can buy cans of it at the grocery store all year round but, like many foods, really it’s so much better when made fresh. And there’s no reason not to! Making pumpkin puree with fresh pumpkin is so easy to do and requires minimal babysitting really. You only need a pumpkin, a baking tray, and aluminum foil. That’s it!
And let’s not forget the pumpkin seeds. You really get two awesome foods for the price of one.
All Things Pumpkin
Although pumpkin is treated like a vegetable, it really is a fruit. Pumpkin belongs to the squash or gourd family along with cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, and – you guessed it – squash. It’s high in fiber and vitamin A. Pumpkin has a good amount of vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese. As well as a small amount of vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. It is also very low in calories (1 cup of puree has only 50 calories) which makes it great for anyone looking to lose some extra weight (especially with the holiday food on its way).
And then there are the seeds. These bad boys pack 7 grams of protein along with vitamin K, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper in just one ounce. They are high in antioxidants, a decent amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B2, and folate.
It is no wonder that this large, orange gourd is considered a superfood.
If you’ve never bought a pumpkin for cooking before, here’s a couple of things you should know. The large, beastly pumpkins for carving are not the same ones you should use for cooking. Sure, the meat is edible and the seeds are still worth saving, but the flavor will be bland and watery. What you want to be on the lookout for is the smaller pumpkins labeled either “sugar pumpkin” or “pie pumpkin.” They should be between 4 to 8 pounds and free of soft spots and big bruises.
If the pumpkin is healthy and the skin is firm, it should last from 8 to 12 weeks stored in a cool dry place. You’ve really got to procrastinate to let a whole pumpkin go bad! Once cut, it’s a different story. That fella will go bad in 5 to 10 days.
So without further adieu, let me show you how to bake pumpkin.
Making Pumpkin Puree from Fresh Pumpkin
Once you bring that lovely fella home, you can treat it like any other winter squash. You can microwave, steam, or bake it. But for a pumpkin puree, it’s really best if baked. And as far as I’m concerned, baking pumpkin has the shortest prep time too. You just wash it, cut the stem off the top, and cut that sucker in half. Scoop out all the seeds and stringy bits with either a spoon or ice cream scooper (Save the seeds though! I’ll be showing you what to do those here.). Place it on a baking tray either face up or face down (it doesn’t matter), cover it with foil, and pop it in the oven. Wait about an hour and if it can be pierced with a fork very easily (I’m talking like butter at room temperature easy), it’s done.
I usually pull it out and let it cool with the foil still on for about 20-30 minutes. Once cooled, remove the skins (the skins should fall off on their own) and store the pumpkin as it is until you are ready to use it. Depending on how watery it is you can use a cheesecloth to strain out some of the liquid. Once you are ready to make a puree can mash it with a hand masher, use a hand blender, throw it in a standing blender, or put it in a food processor. I personally use my Vitamix as it makes the pumpkin puree incredibly smooth and silky.
If you have a dish you plan to use it in soon, it will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. But pumpkin freezes very well too and will last a year.
Making fresh pumpkin puree from home is very easy to do and a thousand times better tasting than canned pumpkin.
- 1 pie pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C).
Wash the outside of the pumpkin and cut off the stem.
Cut it into two halves.
Scoop out all the seeds and stringy bits. Save the seeds.
Lay either facing down or up on a baking tray or sheet and cover it with foil.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the center is easily pierced and the skins easily come off.
Let it cool on the tray until it can be handled.
Peel off the outer skins and mash either with a hand masher, blender, or food processor until smooth.
Store in fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to a year.
Calorie count is based on one cup of puree.
And that about covers it!
I really hope you give this a try. Making pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkins is so easy. And as an ingredient there is so much you can do with it too! There’s pumpkin butter, soup, bread, hummus, alfredo sauce, and of course, pumpkin pie and much much more! And just think, all the extra kudos points you will get at the parties when you bring them a pumpkin pie made with fresh pumpkin. Little do they know how easy it was…
So what are your favorite pumpkin dishes?
If you have any questions or would like to share your favorite pumpkin dish, I would love to hear from you! Just leave me a comment below and I’ll hit you up in about 24 hours.