How to Make Pumpkin Puree, the Easy Way

how to cook a pumpkin

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.

In the pumpkin patch. That poor child’s mother needs to do somethin’ with her hair…

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.

real pumpkin puree

Before Processing

9. Make pumpkin cream puffs, pumpkin milkshakes, honey maple pumpkin bread, or pumpkin pie in a homemade shortening-free crust. And don’t forget about the DIY pumpkin pie spice!

 Tips:
  • 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.

real pumpkin puree

  • 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. ;)

How to Make Pumpkin Puree, the Easy Way.

Ingredients

  • Pumpkin

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Put the whole pumpkin in oven
  3. Bake 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size of your pumpkin
  4. It's done when the tip of your knife sticks into the skin a little ways (The skin will still be tough-it's not going to turn into a baked potato!)
  5. Remove pumpkin from oven and allow to cool
  6. Optional: To speed cooling, remove top of pumpkin to let the steam escape, but be careful, it's hot!
  7. Once cool enough to handle, cut into large chunks removing stringy stuff and seeds
  8. Run pumpkin chunks through food processor or blender
http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2011/10/how-to-make-pumpkin-puree-the-easy-way.html

 

Comments

  1. I can not wait to give this a try! I would love to have pumpkin puree from the freezer whenever the mood strikes.

  2. We have put the pumpkin in for a bit to soften it, then cut it and put it back in. :)

  3. This is brilliant Jill! I will definitely be doing this. I’ve had too many struggles with butchering pumpkins with dull knives, too! :-P

  4. We actually eat a lot of pumpkin in New Zealand — I love roasted pumpkin :)

  5. Love this…we’ve never grown pumpkins ourselves…but I’ve been weary of purchasing pie pumpkins at the grocer b/c I had heard stories and wasn’t sure how to overcome dull-knife syndrome! :)

    thanks!

  6. Thanks for sharing this tips, love it! and that little boy in the picture is cute.

  7. I just love your photos…
    And, living vicariously on your farm :)

  8. WhenI cook butternut squash or small pumpkins, I cut them in half and scrape out the seeds. Then place cut side down on a plate, cover when plastic wrap and microwave for 10 minutes. After it’s cool I scoop out the squash or pumpkin with a spoon.

  9. I cut my pumpkins in half (they’re usually too big to fit in the oven) and place in about an inch of water in a roasting pan. The flesh simply scrapes out and then I puree in my blender. I usually freeze mine. I love to use pumpkin in pumpkin bread and soups mostly, but it’s also wonderful in soups! Will have to give your “pumpkin pie in a glass” a try too!

  10. Oh, the seeds are wonderful to roast as well and worth the time it takes to sort through them. Simply separate out the seeds and let them air dry overnight on a cookie sheet. Next day, for each cup of seeds, mix with melted butter (about 1 tablespoon) and salt (1/2 to 1 teaspoon). Then spread as a single layer on cookie sheet and roast on 325-350 for 20-30 minutes, watching closely to prevent burning. These turned out very crunchy and delicious for us!

  11. Thanks for sharing this! I know it’s pumpkin season but I haven’t used a single one yet! Better get crackin’! :)

  12. I’ll have to try this next year. Even with a high-quality, sturdy, sharp chef’s knife, the hacking is always a bit precarious. Thanks for a great idea! ~Jill

  13. Can’t wait to give this a try! Thanks for sharing!

  14. I just did this on my blog! How funny. This is the method I learned from my great-grandmother who apparently learned it from her mother. Way easy.

  15. Great tips! We tried to grow pumpkins this year, but the squash bugs killed the leaves :( Will try again next year though for fresh pumpkin- thanks for sharing!

  16. What a great tip! Pumpkins are so hard to cut through. I can’t wait to try this. Thank you.

  17. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/fat-tuesday-november-1-2011/
    If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/grain-free-real-food-linky-carnival/

  18. Great tip. The only time I had ever made pumpkin puree I did cut up the pumpkin first and had to scrape it out. I like this method much better.

  19. Sounds great! We’ve been cutting ours and roasting them in halves. It hasn’t been too bad, although my husband has cut every one of them so I really don’t know! :) I’ll have to try this sometime!
    Willa

  20. Love this…we’ve never grown pumpkins ourselves… I know it’s pumpkin season but I haven’t used a single one yet! Better get crackin’!

  21. I have both sugar and large (what you would think for carving) pumpkins. Will the large ones work for making puree with as well?

    • They should both work, Laura. The large ones might not be quite as flavorful, but I’ve used both kids successfully before.

  22. Will those in the picture at the top of the page work? I have a huge 15 pounder like that, but will it be too fibrous?

    • Andrew- I don’t have personal experience with cooking the giant squash, but I’m willing to bet that they would still work. There flavor might not be quite as intense as a smaller one, but then you generally put so much seasoning and spices in pumpkin recipes it might not be a big deal. Good luck!

  23. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    This is a very useful post!

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

  24. Genius method!! So wonderfully simple! I now have 15 cups of pumpkin puree in my freezer thanks to you!! Let the baking begin!!!! :)

  25. wow… WHY didn’t I hear about this before?

    I always drain the extra water out of my puree to make it more like the canned stuff. :)

  26. Thank you so much for this post. I always get a few pumpkins in the fall to make into puree and it is always such a hassle. (worth it but still a hassle) I will be trying this next fall.

  27. Tricia in TEXAS says:

    THANK YOU!!! I’m doing this TODAY!!! I’ve had pumpkins sittin’ ’round the house since the fall… before it gets TOO warm and they start to “go bad” I’m makin’ puree and putting it in the freezer!!! I simply LOVE homemade multigrain pancakes with pumpkin and cranberries…

  28. What is really good is to roast all your squashes and blend them all together. I typically roast, puree and freeze a blend of Butternut, Acorn and Pumpkin for my pumpkin pies and other breads, etc. The blend of the three taste so rich and yummy! It also makes for a great soup.

  29. Why don’t you can the puree? We don’t have the freezer space. is it even possible to put up pumpkin Puree. Have only seen one person who does.

    • Techinically, you aren’t “supposed to” can puree… Although I have heard of some people canning puree, the official USDA guidelines say not to. I think it has something to do with the density of the puree and the sterilization not making it all the way through– or something like that. So, I just freeze mine for now.

    • I just put up a couple pumpkins. I can nearly everything because we don’t have a lot of freezer space. What I do is I just put chunks of pumpkin in the jars and run them through my pressure canner. Then when I want to use it, I drain the chunks and mash them up. As for the reason on not canning puree, imagine you have a pot of cold water and raw potato chunks and you put it on the stove, turn the burner on, and walk away. Provided it doesn’t boil over, you could just ignore it for a half hour and come back no nice evenly cooked potatoes. Now imagine you have a pot of cold mashed potatoes. If you put that on the stove and turned the burner on and ignored it for a half hour, you’d have burned mashed potato on the bottom and the top would still be cold. That’s what happens inside the jars, the proper canning temperature can’t evenly penetrate the pumpkin puree.

  30. Hope you don’t mind me sharing your blog! I used your pumpkin puree directions today and was SO happy to have found you! I will never hate pumpkin season again! hahahaha Thanks so much, Kim

    • Share away Kimberly! :) Glad the pumpkin tip was helpful. I used to HATE hacking up the raw pumpkins, too.

  31. Great tip and so timely! We’ve been experimenting with the best way and I hadn’t even thought of this, can’t wait to try (just used the last of my recent puree in a cheesecake!) on the pumpkins sitting in my living room!

  32. Great tip and so timely! We’ve been experimenting with the best way and I hadn’t even thought of this, can’t wait to try . Happy Thanksgiving

  33. I used this method this year and used the puree to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. It was delicious! I have some leftover too so I might have to try that Pumpkin Pie Milkshake… :)

  34. Nichele Mason says:

    I am really happy with this process. I have just finished doing this with three pumpkins. I will always do it this away!!! :)

  35. How long will fresh pumpkin puree last in the refrigerator? How can you tell if it is spoiled?

    • I’ve left mine in the fridge for at least a week or so before without spoilage. Just check for mold or off-smells.

      • Thanks Jill. I left mine in for 10 days, no mold or off smells but looks more watery/slimy. It doesn’t taste bad, but I think I just need to cook another pumpkin. I do love your
        website. Thanks again!

  36. This post has given me new enthausiasm for pumpkins, thanks Jill. Pumpkin pie is not something we eat here in South Africa (although I don’t know why as they grow like weeds here) so I don’t know what ‘pumpkin pie spice’ is. Are you able to elaborate on that, please? I guess it’s probably a mixture containing cinnamon and nutmeg and other yummy goodies…

    • Yes, you are right– pumpkin pie spice is simply a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. :)

      • Wow, that sounds like a delicious combination of spices, thanks for the reply :). I may just give that a try.

  37. How the heck did I miss this post? This is a wonderful idea! I’ve got rows of root cellar stored sugar pumpkins that are waiting to be processed…..This post has taken away my dread of the process!!!! YAY!

    • Jealous… I wish I had a bunch of sugar pumpkins in my cellar! ;)

      • If we lived closer, I’d share! I’ve given away a lot already, and I still have 15. At this rate, my cow will be enjoying them later this spring. I don’t think i can use that much pumpkin even if I do get to process it all….. :) The crazy thing is that I didn’t even purposefully plant sugar pumpkins last year, the plants that came up were all volunteer. I think from feeding my cow sugar pumpkins the previous year and getting the pulp everywhere. :)

        • Volunteer pumpkins are the greatest! I had a lovely plant pop up in my compost pile year before last. :)

  38. Canned pumpkin is $4-6 where I live; and I’m a seasonal eater, I hard core crave fall harvest items when fall hits. My boyfriend doesn’t like pumpkin but I love it, more for me! I am so excited to be canning my own pumpkin this year. I like it in soups, pies and coffee! Yes coffee, those spiced pumpkin lattes, YUM! Because I love this site so much and this recipe, I’ll send the link on how to make that yummy coffee. http://www.copykat.com/2012/10/29/starbucks-pumpkin-spice-latte/

  39. I just discovered your site today (home sick) and find that you have soooooo many clever tips and recipes! I love them. I feel we all need to go back to cooking like our parents and grandparents did (I grew up in the 50′s). People weren’t as sick then nor did they get infections that were resistant to antibiotics! I work in a school system & it is unbelievable how many allergies young kids have these days!!! I think we have to say no to processed food and over-innoculating our children! Thank you again for your wonderful tips!!!

  40. How timely to find this article, thanks! I swore off growing pumpkins years ago 1-because they take up so much room in the garden, and 2-they were such a pain to preserve after harvest. This year I decided to plant just a couple of seeds to grow pumpkins for decoration, but now I think I will have to make a wholehearted effort to grow them properly and see if I can actually deal with the after harvest preservation! Looking forward to my big pumpkins now!

  41. Sarah Ferguson says:

    Yes, this makes sense. This is how I cook butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash :-) So, if I get a container pumpkin harvest this fall, I’ll be doing this & freezing/eating hopefully lots of pumpkin! :-) Thanks for the post Jill.

  42. Someone gave us a 50 lb Cinderella pumpkin last fall. We baked it, pureed it and froze it in quart bags, ending up with about 5 gallons of pumpkin puree. One bag had 4 cups, which was the amount needed for 2 batches of pumpkin bread or muffins. We’d make them, keep out what we could eat and froze the rest. We also made a dessert pumpkin soup with pie spices, pumpkin pies and bars. We ended up planting some pie pumpkins this year because it was fantastic to have that puree available last year. Can’t wait to try the pumpkin milk shakes.

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  44. Cris Riste says:

    I would like to chime in here and say pumpkin puree cans beautifully. I have been canning it for years with no ill effects. I found it listed in an older pressure canner book. Also I like your whole pumpkin baking idea. I have baked mine mostly to eliminate any extra water in my puree but I always cut in 1/2 first. This saves a lot of baking time but your way is easier without the need to cut. Thanks for the tip! Cris

  45. What kind of pumpkin? Pie pumpkin or regular? I have long used regular large pumpkins and the work well, but I’ve always pre-cut and scooped.

    Does baking change the worming abiliy of the seeds for the chickens, do you know?

  46. So will the seeds still bake up fine for human consumption? The seeds are my husbands favorite part of the pumpkin.

    I’ve been putting off baking up my pumpkin since I didn’t want to cut into them. So excited to give this a try.

  47. Thanks for this valuable information! Have you ever tried dehydrating your pumpkin puree for storage? I saw the idea and have been wanting to try it forever, but haven’t gotten around to it. The only thing I wasn’t sure of is how much water to add back to it to rehydrate it. Seems like it would be a wonderful way to store it for years. I think I will make a point of trying it this fall….especially now that I have this awesome new way of processing the pumpkins that won’t wear me out!