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So I admit it. I’m a little late with this post. I should have slapped this puppy up the second the calendar flipped from August to September. Alas. However, we have a month of Thanksgiving goodness ahead of us and, therefore, at least another genuine month of pumpkin goodness. So let’s make it a great 4 weeks and step up our pumpkin game with some fresh, homemade pumpkin puree.

Don’t get me wrong, the canned stuff is pretty good and I use it all the time. However, sometimes I just feel like upping the ante and making my puree from scratch. And what better time to do that than Thanksgiving – that joyous time when the entire family comes together and you can say, “Why yes, [insert name of Mom, grandmother, mother in law, significant other's mother, perfect sibling etc], I did make that from scratch. Oh no, not canned pumpkin, I mean really from scratch.”

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Ingredients:

Sugar or Baking Pumpkins – as many as you want to use.
A few tablespoons of water.

Special equipment: colander or strainer, cheesecloth or nut milk bag

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Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

The first step is to slice off the very bottom of the pumpkin so the pumpkin has a flat surface rather than round. This is a very important safety step.  Next – slice the pumpkin in half and then hollow out the guts and seeds.

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Sugar pumpkins are usually fairly soft-skinned (relatively speaking) and should slice in half fairly easily. Once in a while you’ll get a stubborn, hard-headed one that will be a bit more of a challenge. I had one that refused to slice and ended up cracking open as I wedged the knife in a crack and banged the whole thing against the counter until it broke open. Effective? Yes. Safe? Probably not. I can’t in good conscience recommend that as a safe method of pumpkin cracking.

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Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and sprinkle it with a few tablespoons of water. Usually we toss roasting vegetables with some kind of oil to keep them from drying out, but we don’t want to use oil here so we are introducing the water to help keep the pumpkin flesh moist.

Set the pumpkins on the baking sheet, cut side down.

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Roast in the 375º F oven until the skin is easily pierced with a knife, the pumpkins look kind of deflated and they’ve started releasing a dark, sticky liquid. This can take anywhere from 60 minutes to 90 minutes depending on your oven, pumpkins and how many pumpkins you are cooking.

As you can see in the picture above, the only pumpkin not at that state was the stubborn, tough-skinned pumpkin so not all pumpkins cook at the same rate.

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Let the pumpkins sit on a wire rack until they are cool enough to handle, then scoop out the soft flesh.

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Puree the pumpkin flesh in a food processor or blender. Et voila, pumpkin puree. If you are planning on using the pumpkin puree for soup or some other recipe where the water content of the pumpkin is not too much of an issue, you can go ahead and use it right away. However, most baked pumpkin recipes are created using canned pumpkin, which is denser and has less water. Therefore, if you want to use the pumpkin for baking, you’ll need to get rid of some of the extra water.

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Wrap the pumpkin puree in several layers of cheese cloth or put it in a nut milk bag. Set the wrapped puree in a colander set over a bowl to catch the liquid.

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Place a plate over the wrapped puree and then something fairly heavy on top of the plate to help press out the water. Put the whole stack in the refrigerator and let the puree drain for several hours or over night.

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In the end, you will be left with a thicker pumpkin puree that will work well in baked pumpkin recipes, which can be pretty water sensitive. Chemistry and all that.

Fresh Pumpkin Puree
 
Recipe By:
Ingredients
  • Sugar or Baking Pumpkins - as many as you want to use.
  • A few tablespoons of water.
  • Special equipment: colander or strainer, cheesecloth or nut milk bag
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. The first step is to slice off the very bottom of the pumpkin so the pumpkin has a flat surface rather than round. This is a very important safety step.
  3. Next - slice the pumpkin in half and then hollow out the guts and seeds.
  4. Sugar pumpkins are usually fairly soft-skinned (relatively speaking) and should slice in half fairly easily. Once in a while you'll get a stubborn, hard-headed one that will be a bit more of a challenge. This pumpkin will probably take longer to cook than its more congenial brethren.
  5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and sprinkle it with a few tablespoons of water.
  6. Set the pumpkins on the baking sheet, cut side down.
  7. Roast in the 375º F oven until the skin is easily pierced with a knife, the pumpkins look kind of deflated and they've started releasing a dark, sticky liquid. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes 90 minutes depending on your oven, pumpkins and how many pumpkins you are cooking.
  8. Let the pumpkins sit on a wire rack until they are cool enough to handle, then scoop out the soft flesh.
  9. Puree the pumpkin flesh in a food processor or blender. If you are planning on using the pumpkin puree for soup or some other recipe where the water content of the pumpkin is not too much of an issue, you can go ahead and use it right away. If you want to use the pumpkin for baking, you'll need to get rid of some of the extra water.
  10. Wrap the pumpkin puree in several layers of cheese cloth or put it in a nut milk bag. Set the wrapped puree in a colander set over a bowl to catch the liquid.
  11. Place a plate over the wrapped puree and then something fairly heavy on top of the plate to help press out the water. Put the whole stack in the refrigerator and let the puree drain for several hours or over night.
  12. In the end, you will be left with a thicker pumpkin puree that will work well in baked pumpkin recipes.
 

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