Pumpkin Puree: How To

>> Monday, November 30, 2009

Good morning! We actually grew this pumpkin in our garden over the summer. Don't ask me how -- it wasn't a conscious decision. The little thing just sort of popped up one day, along with a few other strange squashes (and LOTS of mint, but that's another story). That's what you get for mixing compost that isn't quite "done" yet into your garden.

But it's a great mistake. We let it hang around our kitchen as a mere decoration for a while. Earlier in the season, I decided to make use of it. I'd never actually cooked or baked with a REAL pumpkin before. Picking up those cans at the store seemed so easy -- so, why bother? Well, it's actually a really cool process. And, as always, making your own creates this sense of satisfaction that's addicting.

So, follow these steps and you, too, will have your own puree suitable for use in breads, cakes, pies, soups, muffins, and other fun recipes. It is indeed a bit different from the canned variety -- but I found it tastes just as good. In the next couple days, I'll share with you all the pumpkin bread I made yesterday. But you'll have to wait for now.


Of course, you'll first need to pick out your pumpkin. This can be kind of tricky -- you don't want to use the LARGE ones that are for carving. Instead, search for those pumpkins called "sugar pie" pumpkins. I'm not 100 percent sure that's what mine was. But it was small. I would recommend, though, trying to get the "sugar pie" variety, as they have the best taste and texture.

Step 1 -- Preheat your oven -- 350 degrees F. Now carefully cut the pumpkin in half. I first used a serrated knife to get through the stem, then finished off with my sharpest, biggest knife. But be careful! I've also read you can just cut off the stem. So, do what you wish. It just needs to be halved.

Step 2 -- Place your pumpkin face down atop a sheet of parchment paper on a RIMMED baking sheet. Why rimmed? The juices will start to flow near the end of this process -- so you don't want them getting everywhere. I hate cleaning my oven!

Step 3 -- Bake for 45 minutes or until you notice the skin of the pumpkin turn a richer orange and become soft to the touch. I'm guilty of possible under-roasting mine. It still turned out well, but probably could have used a few more minutes in the oven. This 45 minute time frame is only a guide -- depending on the size of your pumpkin, you may need more or less roasting time. Just pay attention. Also notice how sweet it smells while roasting!

Step 4 -- Gently scoop out the seeds and other gooey stuff until you only have the flesh left. Once you only have flesh (like pictured above), you'll want to scoop it into your food processor. So, scoop away, but don't include the skin (I know that's probably just common sense, but you never know)!

Step 5 -- Process the heck out of the roasted pumpkin until it's as smooth as you can get it. You may wish to add spices or sugar. It's really up to you. I used my puree in a bread (recipe to come soon, I promise!) so I actually added a bit of maple syrup. Maybe 1 teaspoon. My pumpkin yielded about 2 cups of puree. So, plan ahead if you need more or less. For the bread recipe, you'll need 2 cups.

And you're done! However, not really. Unless you're going to eat it as is . . . you'll need some recipes. Don't fret. Just check back later today :)

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