Canned pumpkin is currently enjoying its annual surge of popularity and adoration as the holidays bring pumpkin pies (and cakes and rolls) to kitchens and plates across the States.
Interesting tidbit I picked up on the kitchn—manufacturers sometimes don’t use pumpkin in their “pumpkin” puree at all, but rather a mix of winter squash.
I’ve been in a bit of a DIY mood lately, so as I was plotting this week’s Pumpkin Cut-Out Cookies, I wondered how much of a difference (in cost and taste) it’d make to puree your own pumpkin rather than reaching for the canned stuff.
It obviously takes more time and effort to start with a fresh pumpkin, but it is a bit cheaper (I got my pie pumpkin for $0.98, which produced the same amount of puree as a $2-and-change-can) and the roasting method does offer a hint more flavor. Plus, you get the added bonus of about a cup of roasted pumpkin seeds. Mmm.
Any route you take will allow you to customize the consistency, in case you like a little bitta chunk.
How It’s Done
For the best results, use a small pie pumpkin rather than the larger field pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns. Save your seeds to roast separately!
It’s easiest to puree in a food processor or blender, but you can always go old fashioned and use your potato masher.
To start, you’ll want the meat of the pumpkin to be nice and soft. Cooking a pumpkin is pretty much just like cooking a squash. You have four main options to soften the flesh, from quickest to longest: microwave, boil, steam or roast.
- Microwave: Cut the pumpkin in half, cut away stem and remove the seeds and stringy pulp. Place cut-side-down on a microwave-safe plate and cook on high until tender, about 7 minutes. Depending on the size of your microwave and pumpkin, you may need to cook one half at a time. Scoop cooled flesh out from skin and puree.
- Boil: Cut the pumpkin in half, cut away stem and remove the seeds and stringy pulp. Peel and chop into large chunks. Cover with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking until tender (about 25 minutes). Cool and puree.
- Steam: Cut the pumpkin in half, cut away stem and remove the seeds and stringy pulp. Peel and chop into large chunks. Place in steamer pot or basket over boiling water and steam until tender, about an hour. Cool and puree.
- Roast: Preheat your oven to 375˚ and line a sheet pan with foil. Cut the pumpkin in half, cut away stem and remove the seeds and stringy pulp. Place halves cut-side-down on the sheet and roast until tender, approximately 1 1/2 hours. Use a spoon to scoop cooled flesh out from the skin. Puree until smooth (you can add a bit of water or milk to loosen, if needed). This method produces the best flavor, if you ask me.
A standard pie pumpkin will yield right around 1 1/2 cups of puree, the same amount you’d get in a can and that is called for to make most pumpkin pies and other baked goods.
Originally published for PK4 Media.