Making homemade pumpkin purée might just be my new favorite thing to do in the kitchen. Not only is it incredibly fun (and thrifty!) but also makes the house smell amazing. It only takes about 15 minutes of hands-on time to get the best tasting pumpkin purée of your life. Are you ready?
I know it’s January and pumpkin probably isn’t the first thing on your mind but I’m on a quest to normalize year-round pumpkin in America. When I was young, I never understood why pumpkin was a fall food since most people eat canned pumpkin, which is available year round. My Rosies know how much I adore the Caribbean and pumpkin is a huge part of that cuisine. It’s not unusual to find a pumpkin sauce or pumpkin soup on menus across the islands and dammit, I love pumpkin. I’ve had this gorgeous fairytale pumpkin since September (you might recognize it from many of my fall recipes!) and I finally decided to roast and purée it -just in time too! The seeds had started to look less than fresh but the pumpkin meat was still perfect. You don’t want to purée too fresh of pumpkins, as they retain quite a lot of water when they’re first picked.
Fairytale or “Cinderella” pumpkins are perfect for homemade purée. They’re nice and sweet and yield quite a lot of purée but their manageable size and easy-to-cut flesh make them nice to work with. If you’re planning your spring garden, consider growing your own fairytale pumpkins this May to enjoy all fall! This was a pretty small pumpkin – it’s on my smaller jelly roll pan here – and I still got four cups of delicious fresh purée.
Making pumpkin purée is not difficult at all. It hardly takes any active time, but it does take several hours of inactive time so plan accordingly. It’s the perfect activity to warm up the house on a cold winter day!
Many blogs tell you to carve the pumpkin into slices and use olive oil for roasting but neither is necessary. I made my purée the old fashioned way and the texture is out of this world. I couldn’t resist and tasted it right out of the food processor and wow. The flavor difference is undeniable.
Don’t skip the cheesecloth step to drain some of the water out. I easily got half a cup of water out of four cups of purée and you don’t want that water in your recipes. After this final step, you’ll have perfect pumpkin purée to use in any recipe that calls for the canned stuff. I immediately used it to bake a cake and the results turned out perfect – no tweaks needed. I’ve heard that fairytale pumpkins are the best to cook with but even as a die-hard pumpkin lover, I was ill prepared for how delicious this is. Good thing it freezes well because next year I’m filling my freezer with homemade pumpkin purée. Here’s how to make it yourself!
Homemade Fairytale Pumpkin Purée
1 fairytale pumpkin
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Slide a chef’s knife in the top center of the pumpkin until you hit the cutting board beneath. Gently rotate the knife 90 degrees to slice half the pumpkin. Repeat on the other side to cut pumpkin completely in half. Use a fork alternatively with a spook to scoop out the innards. Discard or save the pumpkin seeds for roasting or planting. Set pumpkin halves cut-side down on a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides). Roast for about an hour, checking every twenty minutes. (Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin.)
- When the pumpkin has darkened and deflated a little, check to see if a knife easily goes through the pumpkin. It does?It’s done! It doesn’t? Keep checking every five minutes until it can be pierced easily with a knife. Remove from the oven and let cool for an hour or so.
- Peel skin off of pumpkin halves. It should peel away easily. Transfer pumpkin to food processor and process until smooth. (You may have to stir a little in between pulsing.)
- Transfer purée to a cheesecloth set in a bowl and let drain for two hours. Purée keeps in the fridge for a week or the freezer for six months.
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