Hi all! How are ya?
Question for you: what is your favorite fall flavor?
Is it apple? Pear? Pumpkin? Gingerbread?
But let’s get back to the basics. Let’s talk about the pumpkin itself. And where that pumpkin is coming from.
Now, if you are already a fresh pumpkin pro, you can skip this post. That’s all you will see here today: how to deal with fresh pumpkin.
To be honest, I had no idea how to use/cook with/bake with a fresh pumpkin exactly two years ago at this time.
It was fall 2011 and I got it in my mind that I would learn. I had been preparing my mom for weeks. We would do it on a weekend. We would find the perfect pumpkin, and we would turn it into a pie.
I remember Google-ing and searching the internet, over and over again. We planned days in advance, we wanted to be prepared.
Looking back at that now, it seems kind of silly. I wouldn’t change the experience — I remember having so much fun doing it. And I remember enjoying the end product immensely. The pie tasted so good, and knowing that my mom and I accomplished turning a pumpkin into a pie, made it even better.
But, it’s really not that complicated. I was under the impression that cooking/baking with a pumpkin was this crazy thing that could only happen on weekends/holidays. I was used to thinking that a pumpkin was only a fall decoration. I was under the impression that a pumpkin was like nothing else I had ever used in the kitchen.
But that’s just not true. If you are new to using fresh pumpkin in the kitchen, think of it this way: a pumpkin is just like any other squash you use. Butternut squash, spaghetti squash, even yellow squash. It may be covered by a thick skin, but inside, you will find the good stuff. Stuff that just needs a little cooking to come free from that skin. And once it’s cooked, it is so, so versatile.
I hope that you all are ready, because after today, I will be coming at you with some pumpkin recipes! Be prepared for both sweet and savory.
Now, yes, it is easier to just use canned pumpkin. And really, I have no problem with it. Most brands, I assume, are just pure pumpkin in a can, and nothing else. And that is just fine! But using a fresh one is fun. It’s a bit more labor intensive than opening a can, yes, but in the right situation it is way more fun!
I will never forget the time my mom and I made that pie. It was fun and it was memorable. Do you want to do something fun with your daughter or your mother or friend or anyone? If you do anything this season: make a pie from a fresh pumpkin!
Let’s talk about how it’s done.
Here’s the quick version:
-Preheat the oven
-Wash the pumpkin
-Cut the pumpkin in half, and then in half again
-Clean out the pumpkin seeds
-Brush the pumpkin with oil
-Roast the pumpkin for ~30 minutes
-Let the pumpkin slightly cool
-Remove the pumpkin skin
-Place the pumpkin in a food processor and puree away!
You’re done, that’s it. Now you have fresh, pureed pumpkin, ready to use in all of your favorite recipes!
Now, I’ll go into a little more detail, and show you some photos!
First, pick out your pumpkins. As far as I know, most grocery stores and markets should carry these little guys around this time of the year. They could be called pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins. Mine were called baby pie pumpkins! The size is really up to you. How much puree do you want. The pumpkin I used was around 3 pounds (estimate) and I got a little over one cup of puree from it.
After preheating the oven and rinsing the pumpkin, you will cut the pumpkin in half. It isn’t as hard as it sounds. It is much more difficult, in my opinion, to slice through a butternut squash. Pie pumpkins are much smaller and I think softer than big carving pumpkins we’re used to seeing. I just choose one side of the stem on top and cut straight down through the pumpkin. Use a very sharp, large butchers knife and it will go smoothly. Cut the pumpkin in half again, so that you have quarters.
Next clean out the seeds. It’s super simple, and you’re probably used to doing it from carving pumpkins. Get a spoon and scrape away until all the seeds are out! Save the seeds, if you’d like. Clean them and roast them up for a healthy snack. For a sweet taste, I’d roast them with cinnamon and for a savory I’d do rosemary!
I then lightly brushed the inside pumpkin flesh with olive oil. I thought this would help it roast better and get more tender. Place the pumpkin quarters onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, with the skin side up, like the two in the middle in the photo below.
Roast the pumpkin in the oven for about 30 minutes. It could take longer or shorter depending on your oven and the size of your pumpkin, as well as how many you are roasting. What you are looking for is a soft, slightly wrinkled skin on the pumpkin that a fork will easily pierce through. The flesh of the pumpkin should be soft as well, and possibly slightly browned.
Let the pumpkin quarters cool a bit. You technically could remove the skin right from the oven, but it will be very hot. Once you feel it has cooled enough to touch, peel the skin from the pumpkin flesh. It should come off very easily. If you are struggling to remove the skin, the pumpkin may need more time roasting.
Once you have the skin removed from the flesh, place the pumpkin into a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, I imagine that a good blender would work as well, although I have not tried that myself. Turn on the food processor and process until the pumpkin is smooth and no chunks remain.
What you’re left with is a smooth, fragrant pumpkin puree, ready to go in all of your favorite recipes. It can be used in smoothies, pies, cookies, cakes, muffins, pasta, quiche, anything! Pumpkin puree really is versatile and tastes great in both sweet and savory dishes.
This pumpkin can be used just as pumpkin puree from a can. Treat it the same. I do find that fresh pumpkin puree has a more yellow color than that from a can, but that’s the biggest difference I’ve noticed.
Making your own pumpkin puree is a fun process and I do encourage you to try it. It is not difficult or confusing, just some straight-forward roasting and pureeing!
I’d love you to leave any questions in the comments section as well as letting me know if you tried making your own puree! I hope that this post can serve as a helpful guide to you.
Now, go find a pumpkin and make some puree!