Fall means it’s time for pumpkin everything! I love eating pumpkin all year long, but in the fall the rest of the world (well, at least the country) joins me.
Do you know what makes pumpkin recipes even better?
Making your own pumpkin puree!
Seriously. If you’ve never tried making homemade pumpkin puree, then make this year your time to give it a try! You’ll be so glad you did.
Making your own pumpkin puree is better for your body and your budget. When you make homemade pumpkin puree, you don’t have to worry about any weird preservatives. Plus, it’s waaay cheaper than buying the canned stuff. And it’s easy!
The short video below will walk you through all the details OR just scroll down for a complete picture tutorial!
Originally published 11/11/2013
How we use homemade pumpkin puree
We use pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin for all things pumpkin, including:
2020 harvest of pumpkins and banana squash
2021 harvest of pumpkins and “bananakins” (our giant pumpkins crossed with banana squash to make a huge squash!
How to make pumpkin puree step-by-step
Making your own pumpkin puree is really easy. If you don’t have much freezer space, you can still puree a pumpkin and keep the puree in the fridge for a couple weeks while you try all the yummy pumpkin recipes you find on Pinterest.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can only use pumpkins labeled as “pie pumpkins” for this. Any pumpkins will work well and be healthy and delicious. Actually any winter squash will work just fine (banana squash, butternut squash, etc).
Start by cleaning and cutting your pumpkin in half and cleaning out the guts. Don’t be intimidated by the slime factor here. I promise it’s way easier than trying to squeeze your arm down inside a pumpkin to clean it out to carve a jack-o-lantern. Grab an ice cream scoop to scrape out all the stringy and seedy parts. You can save the seeds to roast later.
Lay your pumpkin halves on a cookie sheet with the skin side up. This keeps the meaty inside of the pumpkin nice and moist. You don’t need to worry about covering your pan with anything. The pumpkin juices wash off very easily.
Stick your pumpkins in the oven at 350 degrees. It will probably take around 45 minutes, but it will vary depending on the thickness of the meat. If you have large pumpkins (like I did), you may want to move your oven racks down lower (like I didn’t) to prevent scorching the skin (though it doesn’t affect the meat). You will want to check on them after 30 minutes to see how they are doing, though they could take up to an hour. When a knife goes into the meat effortlessly, you will know they are done.
The next part is my favorite. The skin just peels away! But before you get started, let the pumpkins cool for a while because they are hot! When you can actually touch them, you can easily peel most of the skin off with your hands (and it’s fun!). Sometimes you will need to use a knife on the edges.
As you peel off the skin, you can put the chunks of pumpkin meat into your food processor or blender. When I’m doing lots of pumpkin (which I usually am), I use a food processor, but a blender works fine too.
Meet Gonzo. I bet you can’t guess where he picked up that nickname! Does your food processor have a name? Gonzo has proven to be one of our most useful wedding gifts. Unfortunately, they no longer make him any more, but it’s similar to this food processor.
I put all the pumpkin puree into several large containers and stick them in the fridge while I wait to use or freeze the pumpkin puree.
Freezing pumpkin puree
There are a couple of different methods for freezing pumpkin puree. If you aren’t worried about specific measurements, you can just put the pumpkin puree directly into Ziploc freezer bags to freeze. For soup or large batches of baked goods this is fine.
Another method of freezing pumpkin puree is to measure the pumpkin puree as you put it in bags. Measuring the pumpkin puree makes it much easier when it comes time to use. Lay the bags flat as you freeze them so they store nice and compact.
Personally, I like to freeze pumpkin in batches in plastic containers. I love these Rubbermaid storage containers because the bottom of each container says how many cups it holds, so it is easy to thaw for recipes (they are also awesome containers for lunches, because they don’t ever leak). I find this method much easier than continually scraping out a measuring cup into a Ziplock bag, but with the convenience of measuring.
After the pumpkin puree is frozen in the containers, I let it begin to thaw slightly (about 15 minutes on the counter). After thawing for a few minutes it pops right out of the plastic containers. I double wrap each block in plastic wrap. Then, I fill each container up a again with more puree from the fridge and freeze another batch.
After each block is wrapped in plastic, I store them in the freezer in Ziplock freezer bags. I usually use mine within a year or two (in the chest freezer) without any problems
Making my own pumpkin puree allows me to do much more baking of fall pumpkin treats than I would if I had to buy a canned pumpkin each time. We just can’t get enough pumpkin!
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