It seems like there are an awful lot of “pumpkin shortages” lately. For the last few years in our area, pumpkins are either hard to find or super expensive.
Well, let me tell you one thing.
There ain’t no pumpkin shortages at my house.
Last year I went overboard planting seeds and ended up with an obscene amount of winter squash and pumpkins (including some weird franken-squash that resulted from me NOT listening to the seed packets and planting everything too close together…)
This year I exhibited a wee bit more self-restraint, but we still ended up with more than enough pumpkins for all my baking needs this season.
Of course, I think homemade pumpkin puree is infinitely better than the canned version, so I’ve processed my own punkins for several years.
But to tell you the truth?
I’ve never really enjoyed butchering pumpkins. My old method involved hacking through the skin with a dull knife, visions of emergency room visits, trying to fit chunks of uncooked pumpkin like puzzle pieces into my only two 9×13 pans, and lots of dirty dishes.
But I tried a new way this year and I gotta say, I’m sold. Maybe you all have been doing your pumpkins this way for years. But I hadn’t. Until now.
Here is my new method, with a few tips at the bottom.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree from a Whole Pumpkin
1. Pick a pumpkin. Homegrown or otherwise.
2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
3. Put the whole pumpkin in the oven. Yes, the whole thing.(You might stick a baking sheet underneath it (or on a lower rack) if you are worried about drips. I usually don’t have any drippage, though.)
4. Bake for 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size of your pumpkin (the last one I did was on the larger side. It took 1 1/2 hours).
5. You’ll know it’s done when the tip of your knife will stick into the skin a little ways. Keep in mind, the skin will still be tough. It’s not going to turn into a baked potato.
6. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow to cool. If you are in a hurry, you can remove the top of the pumpkin (like you would if you were carving a Jack-O-Lantern) to let the steam escape and cool it down faster. Be careful, it’s hot (duh).
7. Once it’s cool enough to handle, cut it into a few large chunks and remove the stringy stuff and seeds. If you’ve cooked it long enough, the skin might be crispy, allowing the soft flesh to literally fall off. If not, that’s ok. Just use a big spoon to scrape it off.
8. Run the chunks of cooked pumpkin through your food processor or blender.
- You don’t have to bake it at 350, that’s just a guideline. Try increasing or decreasing the temp if your oven is already preheated for something else. Or cook other things at the same time, like perfectly crispy baked potatoes or even eggshells for your chickens.
- If you find that your pumpkin is still not cooked enough once you cut into it, that’s OK. Finish cutting it into chunks and put them back in the oven to bake a while longer. No worries.
- When I cooked my most recent pumpkin, the skin and the flesh of the pumpkin had separated while baking (as you can see in the picture), so all I had to do was hold it upside down to get the skin to come off. It was kinda fun. But if yours doesn’t do this, just scrape it off.
- The stringy stuff and seeds come off a LOT easier once it’s baked. Before, I would try to scrape them off raw and it took a little more elbow-grease. (Don’t forget to give the pumpkin innards to your goats, pig, or chickens. Or try baking the pumpkin seeds yourself!)
- I find that a food processor works way better than a blender. But my blender is pretty wimpy. Maybe if you have a high-powered blender it would work better.
- Store your pumpkin puree in the fridge and use it within a week or so. It also freezes very well.
I sure enjoy my yearly pumpkin binge. Of course by January, the mere smell of pumpkin pie spice makes my stomach turn, but thankfully the cravings always return when fall rolls around. I guess that is how it goes with seasonal eating.