So when was the last time you felt like a kitchen rock star? I have to tell you , whether I should admit it aloud or not, that I felt like such a kitchen rock star the first time I learned how to cook pumpkin. I first learned how to make pumpkin puree two years ago. It was so much easier than I thought it would be.
Just in time for Thanksgiving and any fun fall cooking, I'm going to show you how to cook pumpkin and turn it into pumpkin puree. (You can use pumpkin puree anytime a recipe calls for canned pumpkin.) For the most part it is a ton easier than I thought it would be.
First, make sure you buy pie pumpkins. They are generally much smaller than the pumpkins that are used for carving. I got mine at the same farm when we went to the pumpkin patch to get our pumpkins for pumpkin carving.
Usually cutting your pumpkins open is not that hard. Start by cutting the top off. This will give you a flat surface on which to rest your pumpkin. If you prefer you can also cut the bottom to make it flat as well, though it is not necessary. Once you have cut the top, cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds.
I say usually cutting the pumpkins is not hard because this year I got one ‘normal' pie pumpkin and two that had a VERY hard shell. I've never seen anything like it. It was so hard to cut through, I couldn't do it. My husband had to come in and scare the beejeezus out of me and my friend. I swear it is a wonder he didn't cut a finger off.
I did a little research about my hard shell pumpkin. It appears they are showing up all over the US as pie pumpkins. Speculation is that it is the cross-pollination of the pumpkins in the field. I wonder if it is some GMO type of pumpkin..yay, not! Anyway, I recommend that you test the shell of your pie pumpkin. If it sounds like wood when you knock on it, don't buy it. You will have a really hard time getting it open if you do.
After cracking open cutting open your pumpkin, fill your sheet pan with about 1/4″ of water. Place your pumpkins cut side down on a sheet pan. Bake the pumpkins at 350 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes. You will know they are done by pushing on the skin (of a normal not hard shell). If you can easily push through the skin, the pumpkin is done. For the hard shell pumpkins, I had to turn them over and check if the flesh was soft. Even after cooking for nearly an hour, the hard shell was still hard as a rock.
Once the pumpkins have cooled, scoop out the flesh. I did like the hard shell pie pumpkins when it came time to scoop out the flesh. It was easy, just scrape until you hit the shell. On ‘normal' pie pumpkins, you will scrape the flesh out until you get to the skin. Don't add the skin to your puree.
After scooping, process your pumpkin in a blender or with an immersion blender. I processed my three small pie pumpkins in two batches.
Process the pumpkin until it is freely moving in the blender. This will produce the most smooth results.
Finally, place your pumpkin puree in containers if you don't plan to use it immediately. I use my kitchen scale and store my puree in 15 oz containers. 15 oz is the amount that is in a can of pumpkin puree. Most recipes will call for that amount. Storing the pumpkin puree this way makes it easy to use just what I need.
See, I told you this really was easy. It comes down to cutting the pumpkin, roasting it, scooping it, and processing it in a blender. Easy!
The one thing you do need to know about your homemade pumpkin puree is that it tends to be a bit more wet or runny than canned pumpkin. You have two choices. 1. You can remember this and adjust your recipe accordingly. Maybe adding a bit of extra flour or less of any other liquids. 2. You can add a final step of straining your pumpkin puree. This will allow the additional water content to be taken out of your puree and result in a thicker pumpkin puree.
I've never done the second method….too high maintenance for me. Since I usually cook with white whole wheat flour, the extra liquid in the pumpkin puree works well for me. I also make sure to pay attention and adjust as needed so my recipes come out well.
So what do you think? Have you ever cooked your own pumpkins? Easy, right? I felt like such a kitchen rock star that I knew how to cook pumpkin…might be dorky, but there you go. Apparently it doesn't take much to make me feel really good! lol!
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