Who is enjoying all the wonderful fall pumpkin recipes! Most of us grab a can of pumpkin when making our pies and cakes. But what about making pumpkin puree from scratch? We were intrigued by the idea of making our own pumpkin puree. And had a lot of questions. Would it be superior than the canned version? Would it be a lot of time and work? What is the best approach? What are we getting ourself into! Luckily we were up to the challenge.
Working as a team made quick work of those cooking pumpkins! There are different approaches to making the puree. We tested steaming the pumpkins on the stovetop and microwave. Another option includes using the oven but we skipped that option. Both options were successful in making Pumpkin Puree. My preference is the stovetop since it is easier to navigate the heavy pumpkins instead of reaching up into the microwave. Our test results indicate that fresh pumpkin puree is lighter in color than its canned counterpart. It is slightly loose and fluffy and not dense like the canned version.
Selecting Cooking Pumpkins
Selecting the correct type of pumpkin is important. Pie pumpkins (also known as sugar pumpkins) are best for cooking, baking, and making puree. They are smaller in size, sweet, meatier and have a better texture than the traditional carving pumpkins. They weigh between 3 and 6 pounds and are also perfect for a painted pumpkin face! Pumpkin farms typically indicate if the pumpkin is suitable for cooking.
Below is a picture of our cooking pumpkins – they are much smaller in size than carving pumpkins. Also notice the rich, orange color. I am not sure if that makes a difference or not but they were nice to look at before we cooked them! We used our own assembly approach as we had pumpkins steaming on the stovetop and in the microwave while other pumpkins were being prepared or being pureed.
How to Microwave a Pumpkin
The first step is to wash the pumpkins with warm water and dry them. You do not want to get any dirt in your Pumpkin Puree! Pierce the pumpkin several times around the top. Place in microwave and cook for 5-minutes. Remove from the microwave. Carefully cut the pumpkin in half. It will be hot so use a potholder to keep the pumpkin steady while cutting it. A segregated knife is perfect for this job.
Clean out the seeds and pulp. Warming the pumpkin makes it easier to clean. When the pumpkin are clean, place them cut side down in a microwavable safe bowl. Microwave for another 10 to 20 minutes until tender. Remove from microwave placing on a heat proof mat. Let them rest for 5-minutes allowing them to finish cooking and cool. If the pumpkin is properly cooked, the skin should easily peel off. If it doesn’t you can return it to the microwave for a minute at a time. Scoop out the cooked pumpkin and place into a bowl.
Stove-Top Approach for Steaming a Pumpkin
The first step is to wash the pumpkins with warm water and dry them. You do not want to get any dirt in your Pumpkin Puree! Now dig out your pot with a steamer basket. Add water to the pot and place on stovetop bringing to a boil. At the same time start preparing your pumpkins. Cut the pumpkin in half or quarters depending upon the size. Clean out the seeds and pulp. We found an ice cream scoop made the task much easier. Do your best to clean out the seeds and pulp.
Now add a steamer basket to your pot of boiling water. Place the pumpkin slices in the steamer basket cut side down. The pumpkin may extend above the steamer basket preventing covering the pot. After cooking for a while, the pumpkin reduces in size making it easier to cover the pot. Steam the pumpkin slices 15 to 25 minutes until tender. Carefully remove from the steamer basket as they are tender and hot. If the pumpkin is properly cooked, the skin will easily peel off. Scoop out the cooked pumpkin and place into a bowl. You can see in the below picture how easily the skin peels away from the pumpkin. If you need to work too much, place it back into the steamer basket for another minute or two. Otherwise your Pumpkin Puree will not be smooth in texture.
Making Pumpkin Puree
Now we are ready to make our Pumpkin Puree! We want a nice smooth consistency for our delicious pies, cakes, soups, and dips. You do not want any lumps in the puree. A blender or food processor works well for this job. Cover and blend for a few minutes until smooth. Notice the beautiful, smooth consistency of the puree! Make sure there are not any lumps. Continue to blend until smooth. When the pumpkin is properly cooked, it blends easily. If it does not, then place the pumpkin in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for another minute or two.
Storing the Pumpkin Puree
Once cooled, pour the Pumpkin Puree into bowls, cover and place in the refrigerator. The puree lasts about a week in the refrigerator. If you cannot use it within that time period, place in the freezer up to 6-months. When ready to use the puree, unthaw overnight in the refrigerator.