Homemade Pumpkin Puree

[christine pumpkin photo]Hi everybody!  It’s Christine again, checking in for Sweet-Tooth Friday!  Today we are going to take one of the season’s most popular flavors and give it life outside the can- I’m talking about fresh pumpkin!

While my big bro was busy qualifying for Boston, I spent the weekend at his house chilling with his two dogs.  It was really great to get out of the city for a couple days, and I took advantage of one of the many roadside stands and picked out a couple pumpkins to take home.

Ok I have a confession to make: I’ve never baked with fresh pumpkin.  As far as I know, I’ve never even tasted it.  I hardly use any canned products, but for some reason every October I turn my back on the plethora of fresh gourds available and reach for the ol’ can of Libby’s.

In either form, pumpkin is a great choice because it is loaded with vitamin C and E, lots of fiber, and cancer-fighting heart-disease-battling carotenoids.  That’s both beta-carotene and alpha-carotene!  Canned pumpkin is actually better in that department because during the canning process, the heat turns the beta-carotene into a form our bodies can absorb better.  On the other hand fresh pumpkin is sweeter and has more fiber than canned; it also comes with seeds that are superfoods in their own right!  The seeds have healthy fat, lots of vitamins and minerals, protein and cholesterol-lowering power.

I heard there is a taste difference between the kind of pumpkins grown for jack-o-lanterns and the kind grown for baking, but others say they cook their carved pumpkin after the festivities are over.  So I bought three little “sugar pie” pumpkins and one regular large one to see for myself.

[baking pumpkins photo]

I read up on several ways to “best” cook a pumpkin: roasting, steaming, and microwaving.  Before I could recommend any one way to you dear readers, I tried all three methods.  The results?  The roasting took over an hour and dried the pumpkin out.  The steaming method worked fine but I was concerned that a lot of the nutritional benefits were lost in the water.  The regular sized pumpkin came out flavorless and watery.  In the end, my favorite combination was the ‘sugar pie’ pumpkin in the microwave.  This had the best flavor and texture with the easiest preparation.

Before we get started on the how-to, I have three warning equations for you to consider:

1.  Pumpkins + Knives = Slippery sharp mess.  Count your fingers!
2.  Carved pumpkin + Several days on your porch = Compost, not pie.  Start fresh!
3.  Pumpkin + Plastic Wrap + Microwave = Very hot steam.  Just like your bag of jiffy pop.

How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkin Puree

Choose a firm ‘sugar’ or ‘pie’ pumpkin that weighs about 4 lbs.  If you can’t find this type of pumpkin, use a sweet winter squash like butternut.
Begin by washing any dirt off the pumpkin and drying thoroughly.
Cut a circle around the stem and pull the top off, just as if you were doing a jack-o-lantern.

[open pumpkin photo]
Cut the pumpkin down the middle and pull apart the halves.  Scoop out the stringy gooey stuff along with the seeds and set aside.

[split pumpkin photo]

Cut the pumpkin rind into chunks and put in a microwave safe bowl.

[cubed pumpkin photo]

Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 10 minutes.  Using pot holders, carefully remove the plastic wrap and stir up the pumpkin.  Cover with new plastic wrap and return to the microwave for 10 more minutes.  The pumpkin should be very soft and slightly darker in color.
When the pumpkin is cool, peel off the outside skin.  I found this easier with a sharp knife rather than a vegetable peeler.  The pumpkin can now be pureed in a food processor or mashed with a pastry blender depending on how smooth you want it.

[mashed pumpkin photo]

While the pumpkin is in the microwave or cooling, take the time to separate the seeds from the pumpkin goo.  The seeds can be washed, seasoned, and pan or oven toasted for a yummy and healthy snack.  (I sprinkled mine with a chipotle season-all.)

I got 2 cups of pumpkin puree from each of my 4 lb pumpkins- about equal to one can from each!  I divided the puree into three ziplocks and stuck them in the freezer, ready for any recipe from pies to soup.  Now, was all that preparation and gooey mess worth the effort?

We’ll have to wait until next Sweet-Tooth Friday to put our homemade fresh pumpkin puree to the test!

xoxo Christine



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  1. Funny and interesting blog! Can’t wait to see what sweet thing you make! How about pumpkin cookies with cloves and ginger and cinnamon? Wait a minute… I’m not the Sweet Tooth Friday person- that’s your department. Just a suggestion 🙂

  2. Wow, I totally thought making pumpkin would be a ton of work but it looks so simple! I wonder if you could roast it too to get a different flavor maybe for a roasted pumpkin soup. yum!
    .-= Amber@theminimalistdiaries´s last blog ..Review: Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce =-.

    • Hey Amber,
      Yeah I did roast some pumpkin to see which method was best. The flavor was great, I imagine it’d be yummy in a gourmet mac and cheese. Soup too! It was just a little too dry for pureeing for use in desserts.

  3. Great post Christine, as always 🙂 Now, maybe next week you can show us what to do with all that yummy pumpkin puree?
    .-= Megan (The Runner’s Kitchen)´s last blog ..Mystery Solved? =-.

  4. Awesome! I love my Libby’s, but it’s probably not as good(or good for me) as something like this
    .-= Evan Thomas´s last blog ..We Don’t Judge Here =-.

  5. I was just thinking today about how one would go about preparing fresh pumpkin. Must be because of all the pumpkins I’m seeing. Do you think the pumpkin dish at the Helmand restaurant is fresh pumpkin? It tastes so good I can hardly believe it’s from a can but maybe so. I’m a big fan of all things pumpkin so I’m looking forward to a recipe!

    • Hey M, Yeah I think that Afghani dish is fresh pumpkin, because it isn’t pureed perfectly smooth. It’s also the same lighter color as the pumpkin I made here instead of dark orange like from the can. Now Ill have to find that recipe!

  6. I always make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. People actually ask me to bring them places. The recipe is near the bottom of this blog post.
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..Great Books Week – Friday – Special Gift =-.

  7. Great post! I have never cooked or eaten anything pumpkin related. I had a bite of pumpkin pie as a kid and hated it but I am going to try it again this fall.
    .-= Whitney @ Lettuce Love´s last blog ..Ross and Rachel Salad =-.

  8. ah! This is such a great post. I am totally book marking and giving it a try
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Matzo Ball Soup =-.

  9. Do you think you could peel the pumpkin prior to microwaving it? Thanks!!

    .-= Cheryl´s last blog ..Last 20 miler and general BS =-.

    • Hey Cheryl, I think you could peel it beforehand, it might just be tougher to remove. After cooking, it pretty much slides right off with a knife. I think the only time it actually makes a difference in leaving it on is during oven roasting because it helps the flesh not to get burnt.

  10. your blog is really great, but i must say its a bummer to see someone interested in promoting a whole foods healthy vegan lifestyle recommending cooking with a microwave… ofcourse theyre quick an convenient but theyre a total no-no in terms of food quality! Every book ive ever read about lifestyles like macrobiotics say to avoid microwaves at all costs, and even a quick flip through the classic ‘healing with whole foods’ turns up multiple studies on its negative effect on the molecular structure of the food. I could be wrong for sure, and im sure its a controversial subject, but i just wanted to bring it up. Ill be making pumpkin puree later this week, but ill have to do my best with the baking method 😉

    • I wanted to agree with ‘tiffany’ … Loved the post, but was very surprised to read the recommendation for the microwave. I’ll be taking my chances with baking as well.

  11. I just wanted to let you know this is my go to recipe for how to make fresh pumpkin. I’ve tried it both ways, in the oven and this way. In the oven makes all my pumpkin dishes taste too earthy. I love the way you only taste the pumpkin and not dirt, skin, seeds or stem with your method. I’ve been told I make the best pumpkin pie on the planet! 😉 Thanks!

  12. Has anyone tried pumpkinscones. Recipe:
    3/4 cup cold cooked pumpkin mashed
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    100 mls cream
    200 mls of ginger beer softdrink
    5 cups self raising flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
    Preheat over to 220 deg (200 fanforced oven). Grease and line baking tray.
    place mashed pumpkin and brown sugar in a large bowl. Mix with cream and gingerbeer.
    sift over flour salt ginger and nutmeg. Combine well. Turn dough out on to floured surface. Roll out to a 25 cm thickness. Cut out scones with 6 cm cutter. Place on tray. Glaze with milmilk.
    place in preheated oven 12-15 minutes. Serve warm with butter or cream.

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