Pumpkin Puree – 31 Days of Fall Flavors Recipe #3
One of my first orders of business in the fall is to head out to the local orchards and stock up on apples and pumpkins before they have been thoroughly picked over, leaving me with some pumpkin that looks like it came off the set of a horror movie. Not that the appearance of the pumpkin should matter all that much when it’s just going to find itself all mashed up in some oatmeal or pumpkin bread, but I’m kind of shallow when it comes to the appearance of my produce. I’m a girl. I like pretty things. It’s also a great way to keep a 4-year-old occupied for the afternoon. Send them out on the quest for the perfect little pumpkin and sit back and enjoy while they run around like a maniac trying to find one that is round and doesn’t have any warts.
When it comes to picking the perfect pumpkin for all of your fall recipes, size really does matter. This is one of the few times when smaller is better. (I honestly never thought those words would come out of my mouth!) The giant jack-o-lantern pumpkins lack the flavor and sweetness you’ll want when baking with pumpkin. You might as well just use canned puree. Look for a sugar or pie pumpkin. These are usually fleshier and have a much stronger pumpkin taste when made into puree.
I know that pureeing a pumpkin may sound daunting, but it’s really pretty simple and straightforward. You cut, seed, bake, and scoop. Super easy. Another reason I love making my own puree is because I also get the added bonus of pumpkin seeds that can be toasted and make a tasty, easy fall snack. Puree freezes well, so go ahead and get a few pumpkins while you’re out to make enough to get you through your fall baking. After I thaw it out, I usually strain it for a few hours to get rid of any extra moisture. I usually add it to recipes before adding the wet ingredients in case I have to make a few adjustments so the recipes doesn’t end up too runny. A little fussy, but the results are well worth it.
There are many different ways to make puree, but this is my usual go to method since it’s quick and easy.
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Rinse the pumpkin under cool water to rid the skin of any residual dirt and dry well with a clean towel.
3. Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and guts with a metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Save the seeds for toasting and discard the innards.
4. Rub the cut surfaces with oil. Place them, cut side down, in a roasting pan and add 1 cup of water to the pan.
5. Bake in the oven for about 90 minutes or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife.
6. When tender, remove the pumpkin halves from the oven and place on a flat surface to cool.
7. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the pumpkin flesh.
8. Puree the pumpkin in a food processor, with a hand-held blender or by hand (I use a potato masher).
9. Remove extra moisture by straining through cheesecloth or line a sieve or fine mesh colander with paper towel or a coffee filter and set over a deep bowl. Let drain for about 2 hours and stir occasionally.
10. Place puree in ice cube trays or freezer safe containers. Once fully cooled, the puree can be frozen for later use.