The processed goop in a can, doesn’t even begin to compare to using fresh pumpkin in recipes. The taste is so much richer and it is so much better for you. Pumpkins are loaded with vitamins and nutrients. Making your own pumpkin puree is easier than you think and once you do it, you’ll probably never use the canned junk again.
I picked up two decent sized sugar pumpkins at the farmers market this weekend. Each pumpkin was just $2 each and together they will probably yield at least 4 cups of pumpkin puree, if not more. You can even use the pumpkin from the jack-o-lantern that you carved up, but the sugar (or pie) pumpkins are just a bit sweeter and more tender. If you do use your jack-o-latern pumpkin, be sure to increase the spices a bit more as they can tend to be a bit bland.
Pumpkin puree is great for pies, muffins, bread, ice cream, the list goes on and on. From one pumpkin I was able to make vegan pumpkin spice ice cream, pumpkin spice muffins and I still had some leftover that I just added some brown sugar, butter, hazelnuts and some spices for a little lunch side-dish, which I am eating as I type this.
Another great thing about baking your own pumpkin, are the seeds. Save those seeds and then toast them with a bit of olive oil and salt. They are great as a snack, on salads, or you can even make a great fall pesto with them. (that’s on the agenda for this week).
Fresh Pumpkin Puree
1 fresh sugar pumpkin (also known as a pie pumpkin)
Preheat the oven to 350º F.
Cut the pumpkin in half and clean out the seeds and stringy membrane. Reserve seeds to make toasted pumpkin seeds. lace the pieces cut side down in a roasting pan along with 1/2 inch of water. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pumpkin is soft. You can check for doneness by piercing a fork into the flesh of the pumpkin. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Scoop the flesh away from the skin. Blend the flesh in your food processor until smooth like canned pumpkin.
The pureed pumpkin can be used right away in recipes or you can store it a day or two in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. If it is going to be more than a couple days until you will be using it, freeze it in small quantities in freezer safe bags.