November 30, 2006

Making Homemade Pumpkin Puree

I very seldom purchase canned pumpkin. If I do though I only purchase plain pumpkin, not the pie filling kind because it usually has a ton of added spices.

I grew up in a family where we grew our own pumpkins in the garden. My dad always bought heirloom seed and planted a French variety pumpkin that made the BEST pumpkin pie.

We would grow our pumpkins, puree them and measure out a specific measurement of puree then place in freezer bags and freeze the puree until we were ready to use it. That way all we would have to do is go the freezer, de-thaw the pre-measured pumpkin and add it to our recipe.

Personally, I do not like ANY canned pumpkin. Maybe it’s the feeling of accomplishment eating my own processed pumpkin, I don’t’ know. But I know there is a major taste difference in canned vs. processed. It’s a fairly simple process to actually process your own pumpkin puree also. I think many folks think it’s a very complicated and time consuming process – not so!

First, pick out a small sugar pumpkin. Not the large Jack –o’-laterns you see in many farmer’s fields. Those types of pumpkins have a very fibrous flesh and are not as sweet tasting as the smaller varieties. The smaller variety only weighs about 4-8 lbs, has a good stem intact and needs to have no soft spots of blemishes. Here’s a list of good varieties for making your own pumpkin puree.

You can find these smaller cooking pumpkins at farmer’s markets, specialty stores and sometimes even grocery stores. But, the best way would be to grow them on your own. That way you know where your produce came from and what chemicals have been placed on the pumpkins.

To make your puree:
Cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove seeds (but save them, they make excellent garnishes for dishes and are great toasted) and stringy fibers, and place cut-side down on a greased baking sheet. Add about 2 cups of water. Bake at 350 degrees F until the pumpkin is soft to the touch. Scoop out the pulp and puree in a food processor until smooth. You may have to add a little bit of water in the food processor or blender to get the mixture to puree smoothly. Cool before using or storing in freezer bags.

I like to pre-measure all my puree in freezer bags. This way it’s very easy to go to the deep freeze and pick out 1 cup 2 cups, ect of measured pumpkin puree.

See how easy it is to make your own processed pumpkin. Try it, I guarantee excellent results in taste, texture and aroma in your next pumpkin dish.


Jean said...

one question for you: Do you put the 2 cups of water on the baking sheet or in a bowl in the oven to steam?

I have a wee pumpkin sitting on my counter that needs pureed...

Good Ole Cook said...

I place the water in teh actual sheet I place the pumpkin on. I don't know if this is the proper way, but it's the way my mother and gradmother always did it, and it works.

Jean said...

I'll give it a try. thanks!! :)