I told myself in early October that this would be the year I made the leap from canned pumpkin (pretty delicious and convenient) to homemade pumpkin puree (the great unknown). The assumption is, of course, that homemade has to be better because it’s homemade. We’ll see. The woman at Sunflower Market who rang up my pie pumpkins said that her family will only eat pumpkin pie that is made from homemade puree, which I’m going to take as a positive sign. (I told her they were lucky that she’d comply with their demands, hehehe.)
I purchased two adorable pie pumpkins for $1.50 each; I totally should have weighed them, but I’m estimating that each one was a little over a pound.
My original intention was to use Martha Stewart’s Sugar-Pumpkin Puree recipe, but I couldn’t resist the simple instructions on the bottom of the pumpkins. In retrospect, Martha’s instructions might have been easier (despite appearing to require more work) because they included peeling the pumpkin. I thought cutting through an acorn squash was hard, but I actually broke a sweat trying to cut through the skin of these little pumpkins. Wow. The second one was easier, though, because I worked out a bit of a technique. I cut straight down through the stem first (with the knife parallel to the floor). Then, I would work the tip of my freshly sharpened santoku knife into the top of the pumpkin, using the edge of the first stem cut as a guide. Going on a tip a reader once gave me, I tapped the top of the knife blade to help ease it through the skin. (Ideally, you’d use a rubber mallet for this; since I don’t have one, I’ll admit I used the handle end of a citrus reamer as my “hammer.”) Once the tip of the knife was completely through the skin, it was a lot easier to cut down through the sides of the pumpkin. I ended up making cuts all the way down each side, and then I just pried the halves apart.
Once the pumpkins were halved and the stems were removed, I scooped out the seeds and strings. I put the halves cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet and covered them with another layer of foil. (I’m sure the smell of burning pumpkin skin is less than pleasant.) I baked them at 350F for 90 minutes. (Make sure the flesh is tender at this point; otherwise, throw ’em back in.) I put the baking sheet on a wire rack and turned the halves cut side up to help them cool faster.
Once the flesh was cool, I scooped it out of the shells and into a bowl. (I was amazed at how cleanly it separated.) In two batches, I processed the flesh in my Cuisinart Mini-Prep food processor until it was completely smooth. I transferred the puree to a mesh colander set over a bowl and let it sit for about 5 minutes; my puree wasn’t particularly watery, but it did render about a tablespoon of liquid. I ended up with 2 cups of puree, so about 1 cup per small pie pumpkin. As my Sunflower Market source suggested, homemade puree is much lighter in texture than the canned stuff. Also, despite coming from pie pumpkins, the puree wasn’t sweet, but it’s important to remember this is pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
I transferred the puree to an airtight container and refrigerated it; the pumpkin instructions said it will keep in the refrigerator for five days. Mine won’t last that long since I intend to use most of it to make Martha Stewart’s Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart this afternoon. Stay tuned!
Cut pumpkin(s) in half and remove the stem. Scoop out the seeds and strings. Place cut side down on foil-lined baking sheets. Cover with foil. Baked at 350F until tender, 1 1/2 hours. Cool. Scoop out flesh and mash with potato masher or food processor until smooth. Drain if too watery.
Source: Van Groningen & Sons, Inc.
UPDATE: For better or for worse, Martha Stewart is (almost) always right. Check out this post for a better, faster, easier way to make pumpkin puree.