Sunday, November 6, 2011

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

It's no secret around my house that I love anything pumpkin. I even had a plan idea this year to go through all of my pumpkin recipes and actually make them vs. just drooling over them. I planned to do this in October, but then was distracted by The Diva's birthday and the kitchen painting project (still unfinished). Surprisingly, I have never attempted to make my own puree. This year, I tackled that little project. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, just very time consuming.

Although canned pumpkin is prized for convenience, you might discover that the satisfaction of preparing your own pureed pumpkin is worth the effort. Though baking time and water content vary with pumpkin size and variety, any pumpkin can be seeded, baked and pureed for use in recipes calling for canned pumpkin. One pound of raw, untrimmed pumpkin yields about 1 cup of pureed pumpkin. When a recipe calls for a 15 oz. can of pumpkin, use 1-3/4 cups of puree; a 29 oz. can contains 3-1/2 cups.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut a clean pumpkin (sugar pumpkins are recommended, I used the one my daughter painted at daycare - washed, of course) in half from stem end to the bottom. Scrape insides with a metal spoon to remove seeds and fibers, reserving seeds, if desired. Place halves, cut sides down, in a roasting pan. Add 1 cup of water. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until flesh is tender when pierced with a fork. [Note: I don't have a roasting pan large enough so I put each half in a 9x13 pan.]

When cool enough to handle, scoop out pumpkin flesh with a spoon, draining off any excess liquid and avoiding browned portions. Puree in blender or food processor or mash with potato masher until smooth. Place puree in a cheesecloth-lined sieve set over a deep bowl. Bring ends of cheesecloth over puree to cover. Place a 1 lb. can on top as a weight. Allow to drain about 1 hour or until puree is the consistency of solid pack canned pumpkin. (Or skip draining step and cook puree over low heat, stirring frequently, until any free water is evaporated.)

Place puree in 1-3/4 cup portions in freezer safe resealable pastic bags or containers, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of pumpkin and the top of bag seal or container rim for expansion during freezing. Seal, label, date and freeze for up to nine months. Thaw before using in recipes.

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