We are firmly into fall and the internet has been going nuts over pumpkin spice for well over a month now. I’m not the biggest lover of pumpkin – when it comes to Starbucks, I hold out for the Gingerbread Latte. However, when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, I definitely want to see at least a little pumpkin (preferably in the form of a dessert!).
This year for Thanksgiving, I just had to make a pumpkin dessert and to do that, I needed to make pumpkin puree. That sounded daunting at first – why not just buy the canned stuff, right? – but I really wanted to do it. Not just for desserts, but also for one of my fur babies.
Our dog, Trinity, has allergies and gets an upset stomach from time to time. When she needs a break from her regular food, we give Trinny some canned pumpkin puree (note: NOT canned pumpkin pie filling) and boiled chicken until her stomach feels better. Pumpkin also has the added benefit of being hypoallergenic, meaning that for our poor itchy pup, it’s the ideal everyday treat. She adores it!
Trinity was just one more reason for me to want to be able to make my own pumpkin puree rather than rely on the canned stuff. And when it really comes down to it, it’s always good to go fresh, and now is the time of year when fresh pumpkin is readily available!
Pumpkin Puree: it’s easier than you think!
First of all, you need to make sure you’re selecting the right pumpkins. You want the little pie pumpkins (also called sugar pumpkins, baking pumpkins, etc.). One of these little pumpkins will yield plenty of puree for any reipe you need. For example, my little 3-pounder equated to about 2 1/2 cups of puree.
Once you’ve got your sweet little pumpkins, you’re ready to go!
Step 1: Slice and Prep
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with either nonstick foil or parchment paper.
Here’s a little trick to your pumpkin doesn’t go wobbling all over the place: slice some of the skin off of one side so it will lay flat on its side! That was a really handy trick, I’ll tell you.
Chop off the stem; slice top to bottom (meaning you’re slicing horizontally with it resting on its side like this) to cut the pumpkin into halves. It sounds silly, but it really was easier to slice it horizontally – I thought getting it back up on its bum would let gravity help me slice, but not so much. That big ceramic knife up there (the purple beauty) will do the trick just fine, just get your muscles behind it!
Scoop out the strings and seeds with an ice cream scoop.
See how there is still some dark orange stringy bits attached inside there? Cut the longer strings with kitchen shears. Then, grab a spoon and scrape the living daylights out of it. You might get some tiny little bits of flesh that come up with them, but they’re negligible to the overall yield.
If you want to save the pumpkin seeds, now would be the time to do that. (Waste not, want not!)
Step 2: Roast
Sprinkle the flesh with kosher salt (a decent pinch) and then lay your pumpkin halves, skin up, on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the pumpkin in the preheated oven until you can easily slide a knife through the flesh, about 30 to 45 minutes. One thing I only kinda did, but that you should definitely do, is test it in several places – make sure that pumpkin didn’t roast unevenly!
Now you need to let those bad boys cool down so you don’t burn your fingers. You should probably slide that sheet onto a cooling rack (I didn’t because I’m bad) and let the pumpkins cool for an hour.
When they’re cool, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. The spoon will just slide along the inside of the skin, almost like you’re scooping out butter!
Step 3: Puree!
Normally, I would drop the flesh into a food processor and puree it up that way. However, I was busy prepping other Thanksgiving foods in the food processor, so I used an immersion blender instead. Either way, it did the trick!
This puree can be used in so many recipes – or it can go directly into your dog’s food dish like some of mine did. The best part is, it stores in the fridge for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 3 months!
Bye, canned pumpkin! See you next spring.