I have a confession. I don’t remember ever buying pumpkin in a can. Ever. I know my mom did when I was younger a few times, but generally, our pumpkin came from, well, a pumpkin. For years in high school I avoided pumpkin pie with it’s brown, creamy texture. Then I realized it was because I’d always had my pumpkin fresh. Fresh as in orange.
When I started cooking with pumpkin on my own, I naturally went for the fresh pumpkin, but the grocery stores sell by the pound, and when you’re paying $5 for a sugar pie pumpkin that only produces a can’s worth of purée, I can see why people would opt to buy the ready-to-go variety in the can. Lesson: Don’t buy pumpkins at the grocery store.
All of our pumpkins, aside from the ones we grew ourselves this year, come from the farmer’s market where they are priced in whole dollar amounts. I haven’t spent over $2 for a pie pumpkin in ages. They’re a dime a dozen there, and the vendors smile happily as you take the bright orange spheres away.
Preheat your oven to 350º F, and then start by cutting your pumpkins in half. This can be a bit tricky, but I’ve found that getting a good slice in it and then sticking the knife in and guiding it around works best for me. My husband just slices the whole thing like it was butter, however.
Using a spoon, scrape all the seeds and guts. I put them off to the side in a bowl and then separate the seeds to bake later.
Keep scraping until all the strings are gone.
Place your pumpkin flesh side down into a baking dish large enough to hold both sides. I use a glass 9×13″ pan for this. Add 3/4 to 1 cup of water, just enough to come about 1/4″ up the side of the pumpkin. Stick it in the oven for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes depending on pumpkin size.
Your pumpkin shell should still be firm, but give a little when pushed. When you turn the pumpkin over, the flesh should start to have some translucence to it, and it should be easy to scoop out because that’s what you’re going to be doing to it.
Scoop your pumpkin out directly into your food processor or blender, and pulse until you have a nice, even purée with no lumps. You can strain this through a cloth to get a thicker purée if desired.
I use this in all my pumpkin recipes, from tarts, to pasties, to breads. I have a few new ones I’m excited to be sharing with you as well. I collect pumpkins and roast them while I clean or do laundry or other things around the house. I’ve been freezing the puree so I have it available all winter and later in the holiday season to bake with, and I can’t wait to start.
1 cup water
Preheat the oven to 350º F. In a 9×13″ baking dish, place pumpkin halves. Add water. Bake for one hour or until flesh is soft and easy to scoop.
Scoop the pumpkin flesh out, leaving behind the outer shell, and into a blender or food processor. Blend, pulsing until the purée is smooth and uniform in texture. Strain through a cloth to remove excess moisture. Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to three days and in the freezer for up to three months.
Makes 2 to 3 cups pumpkin purée