I give up! Even though our local temps are still hovering in the high 80s, I have finally succumbed to “pumpkin-mania.” After all, Halloween is nipping at our heels, and Thanksgiving is but a few short weeks after that. It’s time, dear readers. It’s time. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Besides, I had my first pumpkin latte of the season the other day, and I must confess — I’d really missed it!
So, I’m going to give you a formula for the foundation of just about anything pumpkin you might desire to make — homemade pumpkin puree.
Some of you may not realize this, but pumpkin puree does not originate in a can; it starts with real honest-to-goodness pumpkins. Shocking, huh? When I first learned that I could make my own from scratch, it was a revelation.
Homemade pumpkin puree is lighter, airier and has a much more delicate flavor than the canned stuff. Not to say that canned puree is bad — because it’s not. It’s convenient and makes a darn good pumpkin pie. But considering how easy homemade puree is to make, every self-respecting home cook should try it at least once. And luckily for you, dear readers, I am about to show you how.
The first thing you need to do is go out and buy some pumpkins. If you have a friend with his own little pumpkin patch who’s willing to share, so much the better! Don’t get one of those big, old jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, either. They’re tough and stringy inside. You want to look for those cute sugar pumpkins — also called pie pumpkins. Their flesh is sweet and lovely.
In order to turn your pumpkins into puree, you have to cook them first. Grab a sharp, heavy knife or cleaver and whack the pumpkins in half. You’ll need to put a little oomph into it. Scrape out all of the seeds and gunky stuff with a large spoon. But, DO NOT throw away the seeds! Rinse and dry them, and save them for making delicious toasted pumpkin seeds to snack on later.
Season the insides of the pumpkins with a pinch of salt if you want. Then, lay them face down on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet and roast them until they’re very soft and tender. You also can make pumpkin puree by simmering peeled cubes of pumpkin in water. But, roasting will give you a puree with a richer pumpkin flavor.
After the pumpkin has finished roasting, take it out of the oven to cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, scoop out all of the flesh and puree it in a food processor or blender until it’s smooth, velvety and luscious-looking. It will now be ready to use in all of your favorite Halloween and Thanksgiving recipes.
The puree will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. You also can freeze it to make pumpkin goodies long after the spooky season. Try spooning a cup or two it into quart-sized zip-top freezer bags and store them in the freezer. When you need some for a recipe, just take out a bag and defrost.
Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Makes approximately 3 cups of puree, depending on the size of your pumpkins.
2 small sugar pumpkins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with foil or parchment and brush with a smidgen of vegetable oil to prevent sticking.Cut the stems off of the pumpkins and chop the pumpkins in half. Scoop out the seeds and pulp (any stringy bits). Sprinkle with a little salt, if desired. Lay the pumpkin halves face down on the baking sheet, place in the oven and roast until the pumpkins are fork tender and the skin peels off easily. This should take about 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove pumpkins from the oven and let them cool. When cool enough to handle, scoop out all of the pumpkin flesh and place in a food processor or blender. Process the flesh until very smooth.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Find more amazingly easy recipes at Susan Filson’s blog, stickygooeycreamychewy.com.