My CSA box has included pie pumpkins the past couple of weeks, so it seems like a great time to show how to make your own pumpkin puree. The best pumpkins to use for this are dense pie pumpkins (also known as sugar or cooking pumpkins). Do not use the large, decorative pumpkins used for carving. They are mostly hollow and tasteless.
First, pick pumpkins that are fairly small and dense. Remember, they become more hollow and bland as they get larger. Clean the outside of the pumpkin and dry it off. Grab a solid, very sharp knife. I emphasize very sharp. I ended up trying four different knives before I found one that could do the job. Cut off the top of the pumpkin just below the stem.
Then, cut the pumpkin from top to bottom down the middle.
Use a large spoon or melon baller to empty out the seeds and pulp from the middle. Try to get out as much as you can, but don’t worry if a few strands are left behind. Discard the pulp, but keep the seeds if you want to roast them later. I cleaned the seeds off and stored them in the refrigerator until I figure out what to do with them.
Cut each side down the middle again and place cut side down on a lightly oiled pan.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-60 minutes until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. The baking time varies a bit based on the size of the pumpkin. This pumpkin was ready after 45 minutes.
Peel back the skin of the pumpkins and discard. Also, remove any remaining pieces of pulp.
Cut into small pieces and place in the food processor fitted with a sharp blade.
Puree the pieces until smooth. Be sure to wipe down the sides with a spatula to get all the pieces processed. If the pumpkin is too dry, you may need to add a little bit of water (just a little at a time) to help it blend better.
If the puree is too watery, strain through a cheesecloth or through a fine mesh sieve layered with a paper towel. You now have homemade pumpkin puree! To freeze, measure the puree into freezer bags. I have 1/2 cup and 1 cup bags, because that is the amount I use in most recipes. Flatten the bags so they can be stacked in the freezer. Frozen pumpkin puree is good for about 6 months. In the refrigerator, it is good for up to 5 days. Enjoy!