Fall is in the air! Crisp mornings, cool breezes, leaves changing, scarves, boots and, of course, pumpkin everything! While pumpkin spice lattes are all the rage during this season, if you’re in your kitchen, baking with pumpkins is also a necessity. Technically if you have pumpkin purée, you can have pumpkin flavored treats at any time of the year. For some reason though, it just doesn’t taste as good in the summer as it does during the fall and holiday season, right?
While we get into sweater weather, it’s easy enough to bake your wonderful pumpkin laced dessert with the canned pumpkin you buy at the store, but did you know it’s much cheaper to make the purée at home? And it’s not at all hard either, albeit a little messy. The flavor is actually better, and because pumpkins are big, you get a whole lot of pumpkin at one time!
Pumpkins – That’s it! I have heard that smaller pumpkins come with better flavor – specifically baking pumpkins. I interchangeably use both large and small. The flavor tastes about the same to me. The real difference is that larger pumpkins are a bit harder to work with, so keep that in mind. Also, buying two small pumpkins is more expensive than buying one big one. So, if you’re concerned about cost, then a big pumpkin may be the way to go. Either way though, making it from scratch will save you money.
You’ll also need:
- Your Oven
- A Casserole Dish (or two, depending on the size of your pumpkin)
- A blender device of some nature (food processor, blender, etc.)
How to make the purée:
Cut your pumpkin into pieces. If it’s a smaller pumpkin, cut off the top (the part with the stem), and then cut your pumpkin in half. If it’s a large pumpkin, cut off the top of your pumpkin and then cut it into fourths. If you’re working with a large pumpkin, this is the most difficult part.
Scrape out all of the seeds and gunk from the middle, just like you would if you were going to carve one for Halloween. Make sure to keep the seeds though, so that you can roast the pumpkin seeds later!
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
Place your pumpkin into large casserole dishes, pulp up, and pour about a half an inch of water into the bottom of the dish. This provides humidity which prevents the pumpkin from getting too dry in the oven.
Put your pumpkin in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. If you live in high altitude you may need to cook it a bit longer. I had to cook mine for about an hour and I live at almost 7,000 ft.
Once your pumpkin is done it will have a really soft rind and the pulp with be very mushy. Take it out of the oven and let it cool a bit.
When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, place it on a cutting board and take a knife to slowly remove the rind from the pulp. It should come off pretty easy, if it doesn’t then it hasn’t been cooked long enough. Don’t worry though, you can place it back in the oven and cook it a bit longer!
You’ll need some kind of blending device. I’m using a blender and put it onto the purée level when mixing. But any blending device will do. Put your pumpkin pulp deliciousness into the blending device of your choosing and purée that wonderful stuff!
Repeat as necessary until all the pulp has been puréed. I then place the purée into ziploc bags in either 2 or 4 cup increments and place them in the freezer until I need them. This ONE pumpkin made 10 cups of purée!! A can of pumpkin purée at the grocery store is about $2 dollars. A large pumpkin is currently $3.50! It is the cheapest way to get that amazing pumpkin purée, it’s not processed so the flavor is better and because it’s not process all the nutrients are still there! (I mean, until it’s made into pumpkin pie, which isn’t at all good for you.)
Remember that pumpkin flavored treats also make great gifts! So take your extra pumpkin and bake or make something sweet for your friends and family this holiday.
Now purée those pumpkins and let me know what amazing recipes you use it in! I know pumpkin butter is my absolute favorite, but pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread are rivaling seconds!
Pumpkin puree is also great baby food! So don’t be afraid to feed a bit to your little one if you’re currently in that stage.