Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hello October! - Making Pumpkin Puree #Recipe

It is finally time to break out the pumpkin recipes, roll up my sleeves and get baking!

Yes, those fabulous little Sugar Pie Pumpkins are ready in the field and they couldn't have come at a better time.

Yesterday the sky was grey and today the infamous Oregon Fall drizzle has moved in, putting a damper on our outside activities. The bright spot now is the wonderful smells coming from our kitchen.

Every year I see posts on using jack-o-lanterns for making pumpkin puree. I have to say it would be better than the rather bitter squash mixture found in a can of canned pumpkin, which is usually a lot of butternut squash or just "cannery squash". The typical jack-o-lantern pumpkin was not grown to be eaten. They have a thinner flesh (less to puree!) and are often very watery or flavorless.

So, if you go to the trouble of roasting a "Jack", I will give you some props for going the extra mile to make your own puree, but if you want more flavor and meat choose a Sugar Pie pumpkin.

These small and round beauties are heavy, they have a fair amount of seeds to roast, but most importantly have a thick tasty flesh just perfect for baking projects.

I grabbed 3 good sized pumpkins.

Then I cut the tops and bottom off. Just the very end. I like to have them sit as I cut them in half.

Do you see how thick the meat is?

Then I scoop out the seeds and save them in a separate bowl to roast later. Then cut the pumpkin again so you have quarters.

Now I roast my pumpkins at 350 degrees. Don't worry about peeling them just yet.

There are many ways to do this. I have had the most success by putting my pumpkin skin side up in a baking dish with about an inch or so of water. This method takes longer, but the flesh is very tender and not dry.

I wasn't sure if covering them with foil was essential or not, so I tried a pan of each. One was covered and one was not.

Both batches were cooked for the same amount of time and both were fully cooked in about an hour. The biggest difference was the covered pan was much easier to peal. They also didn't dry out around the edges.

So, either method works fine, though I would recommend covering your dish while baking.

Test the pumpkin with a fork. It should be soft, even in the thickest parts.

Set this aside till it is cool enough to handle.

With a pairing knife, take off the outer shell. It should come off very easily. Then add the meat to a blender or food processor.

Pulse it up till you have a smooth and creamy puree. Be sure to stir the bowl around to remove large chunks.

I freeze mine in baggies with either a cup or 15 oz (as is in a typical can of pumpkin) in each. It is such a treat to have bags made up for my favorite recipes in the exact amount called for.

Mmmm.... it has a good flavor even before adding sugar and spices. I am planning on using this for Pumpkin Icecream and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies later this week.

I hope you have a chance to try making your own Pumpkin puree. What will you put it in?

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