I used to make pumpkin treats on a regular basis when Michael and I were in school. When he graduated and we moved to the desert in May, I was surprised that I couldn’t find canned pumpkin ANYWHERE. Eventually, I found ONE store that sells organic pumpkin puree for two times what I normally pay, which saved my bacon for a while.
At the checkout line, I asked a clerk if the store would be carrying pumpkin during the fall holiday season. He said that he honestly didn’t know, and didn’t I know there was a pumpkin shortage on?
A few minutes of research later that afternoon, I learned that, yes, in fact, there WAS a pumpkin shortage going on. Libby’s (a primary pumpkin supplier who also supplies to generic store-brand packagers) had experienced a wicked frost and the pumpkin crop was significantly down. Shocking!
I’ve been pleased to see that pumpkin has returned to the shelves of almost all my local grocery stores at least for the holiday season, but I took the opportunity to learn to make my own from fresh pumpkins.
Making your own pumpkin puree is surprisingly easy. I was kind of shocked that more effort wasn’t involved. Plus, this time of year, pumpkins are on sale all over the place and there’s not much price difference in the finished product.
One thing to be sure of is that you are purchasing the proper type of pumpkin. Behemoth carving pumpkins sure look great on the porch, but they don’t work as well for puree or pies. What you’re looking for are the smaller sugar pumpkins and cheese pumpkins (often called “pie pumpkins”) because their flesh is more suited to pumpkin puree.
*sizes of pumpkins will vary, but I found that a 4lb sugar pumpkin yields between 1 1/2-2c of pumpkin puree. The steps are the same no matter what size you’re working with, just be sure to check them during the roasting time for doneness.
- Sugar or cheese pumpkins, washed and tops sliced off just below the stems
- Cut your pumpkin(s) in half. Scoop out seeds and stringy pulp (don’t worry if a few strings cling to the sides of the pumpkin).
- Place pumpkins cut side down on a large baking sheet. Pour ½-1c of water onto the baking sheet (enough to just cover the surface of your pan).
- Roast pumpkin at 375 degrees for 50-75 minutes, or until flesh is very tender when pricked with a fork (skin might blister or brown–this is fine).
- Allow pumpkin to cool down enough to handle. Scoop flesh out of the shells and place in food processor. Process or pulse until smooth (this took me 1-2 minutes of pulsing).
- Place paper towels or cheesecloth over a sieve/strainer, and place sieve over a bowl to drain. Pour puree into the prepared sieve and allow to drain about 45minutes to 1 hour (this will remove excess liquid from your puree).
- Use immediately, refrigerate up to 3 days, or place in airtight bags or containers to freeze. Puree will remain good in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- (When thawed, puree may separate slightly, but this can be fixed by running it through the food processor or blender for a few minutes before using.)