We’ve reached that time of year where pumpkins find us around every corner. Whether it be decorations, pies, or lattes, this orange fruit becomes a staple of the season. This year, just before Halloween, we went to Munson Farms here in Boulder and bought four pumpkins. We decided not to carve them this year because we were running short on time, so I quickly painted them with simple designs. However, it seemed like it would be a waste to ONLY use them for decoration, so I decided to purée them.
Puréeing a pumpkin isn’t difficult, but it is pretty time consuming. However, it’s totally worth it in the end to have some fresh pumpkin to cook with.
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Wash your pumpkin. Since ours was from a farm, it had some dirt on it, plus I wanted to get the paint off.
3) Using a serrated knife, cut open the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. You can use a spoon, but a scraper tool from a pumpkin carving kit is a bit easier. Save the seeds! They’re delicious when roasted. Take a peek at my recipe.
4) Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces, roughly 6” by 6”, and discard the stem. I just find them easier to handle later if I can actually hold them in my hands comfortably. Some of mine end up being triangular, too.
5) Place the pieces meat-side down on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. You don’t have to use parchment paper, but I find clean-up much easier when I do.
6) Bake for about an hour. You want the pumpkin to be tender when poked with a fork, or tender enough to eat (which you can do!)
7) Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool. You want to be able to easily handle the pumpkin directly with your hands and not burn yourself.
8) Scrape the pumpkin away from the skin and discard the skin.
9) Blend up the pumpkin. I use an immersion blender because of how easy it is to clean, but you can also use a normal blender or a food processor. I also like to do mine in smaller batches in the measuring cup that came with our immersion blender because I can get a more even consistency, but if you don’t mind a little chunkiness, you can just do it in a bowl.
10) Using a strainer lined with cheesecloth, drain your pumpkin. Depending on how much you have you may have to do it in smaller batches (I do this). If you’ve got a ton of time, you can just let the purée sit and drain, stirring it occasionally, but I usually just want to finish and squeeze the cheesecloth to more quickly remove the excess water. Some people save this pumpkin juice, but I haven’t ever done that. Maybe next year ;) Squeeze/drain the purée until you’ve got your desired consistency.
11) If you’ve got superhuman stamina, go ahead and start baking/cooking! Otherwise store the pumpkin. I like to use freezer-safe bags and put one cup of purée in each. That way I can freeze the pumpkin, and then thaw just what I need when I need it.
You can use this purée in pies, cookies, bread, soups, hummus, and more! Happy holiday cooking!