Happy Fall! I celebrated the first day of fall roasting pumpkin in the oven (and taking the chill out of the air) to make homemade pumpkin puree.
I know, everywhere, and I mean everywhere, says you must use a sugar (or pie) pumpkin to make homemade pumpkin puree for pies. The reasoning I’ve seen–jack-o-lanterns are too stringy and too bland. Well! I was given quite a few jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Even after saving out a few for the kids to carve up and have fun with, I have a few left. I needed to try making something with one of them, at least for experimentation sake if nothing else–they were free and I wouldn’t be out anything if the experiment failed.
While I’ve never made homemade pumpkin puree with a sugar pumpkin (though I did pay $1 for one today to try that tomorrow for a taste comparison), I was positive it could still be done and used to make a great pumpkin pie, or pumpkin bread, or pumpkin butter, or anything pumpkin.
Start by cutting the stem off (I actually broke it while carrying the pumpkin by the stem) and washing the pumpkin. Just use water and a cloth.
The hardest part of doing anything with a large pumpkin is cutting it. Find a sharp knife, my serrated knife seemed to work best, and just start cutting it down one side and around. At the very end, I just couldn’t cut anymore and I pried it apart, right into two.
The kids might have a blast cleaning the “guts” out. Ask them to do the next step for you! I found it was easiest to just use my hand to take the seeds and as much of the stringy stuff out as I could.
Save all of this for roasting pumpkin seeds! The kids will love you for it!
After all the looser strings and seeds are removed, use a spoon or ice cream scoop to get the rest of the strings.
I was very surprised to see the broken part of the pumpkin reminded me of a spaghetti squash.
I fit my two halves on a regular cookie sheet inside the oven. If yours are too big, just cut them down more for a better fit. Brush the flesh part with some melted butter and bake for about 2 hours in a 350 degree oven. Fork tender isn’t quite good enough. Let it get a little mushy, it will come apart from the skin much easier. If the top begins to brown too much for your taste, baste with more butter or cover it up with foil. I like the darker spots, it looks roasted.
When the pumpkin is finished roasting, bring it out and let it cool enough so you can work with it.
I just started by using my ice cream scoop and pulling the sides down to the middle, then using a large spoon to lift it to the bowl. Scrape everything, being careful not to break through the skin.
After all of the meat has been removed, you end up with a pretty browned orange looking piece of leather. Compost it!
The next step is getting the spaghetti squash looking “stuff” into a puree.
Since it was roasted and not steamed or cooked in water, there really is no extra water, so the stick blender idea I had didn’t work. I used the food processor and processed it in batches, about six different batches. Set it on high and let it puree it’s little heart out. Go find your bowl you’re going to put the puree in now that the stick blender didn’t work in that big bowl you were going to use.
I let the processor run for about three minutes or until it looked like–pureed pumpkin.
This fifteen pound pumpkin gave me 22 cups of homemade pumpkin puree.
Made into puree, it was not stringy. That reasoning is bogus. The taste? It tastes like squash–squash roasted in the oven. That reasoning? Bogus. While sugar pumpkins may taste sweeter or maybe even better for making pies, there is no reason you can’t use the pumpkins you find everywhere this time of year, especially if they’re free! Add a little more sweetener! I will be making pies, breads and butters this next week, so I will have a better idea of how much more (if any) is needed.
So I have 22 cups of homemade pumpkin puree, what else can I do with it besides making all those goodies? Freeze it. Do not can pumpkin or squash puree in a boiling water bath or pressure canner. Per Nation Center for Home Food Preservation
Home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash. In 1989, the USDA’s Extension Service published the Complete Guide to Home Canning that remains the basis of Extension recommendations today, found in the September 1994 revision. The only directions for canning pumpkin and winter squash are for cubed pulp. In fact, the directions for preparing the product include the statement, “Caution: Do not mash or puree.”
In accordance with the USDA recommendations, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service does not have a recommendation for canning these products either. There are not sufficient data available to allow establishing safe processing times for any of these types of products. It is true that previous USDA recommendations had directions for canning mashed winter squash, but USDA withdrew those recommendations and any publications preceding the Complete Guide to Home Canning (September 1994) are considered out of date.
Some of the factors that are critical to the safety of canned pumpkin products are the viscosity (thickness), the acidity and the water activity. Studies conducted at the University of Minnesota in the 1970′s indicated that there was too much variation in viscosity among different batches of prepared pumpkin purees to permit calculation of a single processing recommendation that would cover the potential variation among products (Zottola et. al, 1978). Pumpkin and winter squash are also low-acid foods (pH > 4.6) capable of supporting the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria which can cause the very serious illness, botulism, under the right storage conditions. If the bacteria are present and survive processing, and the product has a high enough water activity, they can thrive and produce toxin in the product.
Here's the full recipe and printable!
Roasted Homemade Pumpkin Puree
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- 1 1/2 cups puree per pound of pumpkin
- Pumpkin, a jack-o-lantern will even work
- Cut the stem off and wash the outside of the pumpkin.
- With a sharp knife, cut in half (or what will fit on your pan in your oven).
- Brush fleshy part with melted butter.
- Bake for about 2 hours in a 350F oven or until past the fork-done stage.
- Allow to cool enough to handle, then removed meat from the skin.
- In batches, place in food processor and process on high until it is pureed with no strings (about 3 minutes). Continue with the batches until everything has been pureed.
- Use now, refrigerate for a few days, or freeze.