Day 5: Pumpkin Puree

I generally try to stay away from watching the local news because it can be a bit depressing, especially with the California economy the way it is and all of the local tragedies that go on daily. Plus the news they report on usually puts me in some sort of panic like I'm going to get stabbed jogging or I'm going to be poisoned by the spinach I ate yesterday. Though a couple of weeks back, one of the promo commercials caught my eye. The anchor was saying we are in store for yet another pumpkin shortage. It was super dramatic with a "say goodbye to your thanksgiving pumpkin pie" and "your children will be carving butternut squash" vibe to it, but it still had me worried. WOULD I HAVE TO CARVE A BUTTERNUT SQUASH? Hurricane Irene, do you really need to cause any more damage? Where will I buy my favorite fall ingredient, pumpkin puree?!?

I sort of had a similar experience last year. I really struggled to find canned pumpkin, but small pie pumpkins (not carving pumpkins) were really easy to come by. I totally have no idea if that is going to be the case this year or not, however, I thought it would be valuable either way to share my recipe for homemade pumpkin puree. Yes, it takes much longer than opening a can, and those strings of pumpkin slime hang on so tightly it will make you want to scream, but when all is said and done, it is worth it. It can be used so many ways and you'll use it up quicker than you imagine. The pumpkin flavor is much stronger than the canned version and it is kind of cool to say your ingredients came from the pumpkin patch and the other one from the sink.

Pumpkin Puree - Makes 3 cups

  • 2 small pie pumpkins (these are not the tiny baby pumpkins, nor are they the jack-o-lantern pumpkins, they should be 2 pounds or so each)

  • Water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top off your pumpkin (just like if you were going to carve it) and cut your remaining pumpkin in quarters. Scoop out all the filling, strings, and seeds. I like to save my seeds and roast them (which requires cleaning the seeds and drying them overnight). Once the quarters are clean put them face down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Follow the instructions above for the second pumpkin as well. Put pumpkin quarters in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Peel skin away from pumpkin and discard. Add the fleshy bits of your pumpkin to the food processor and add water as needed. I only used about 4 tablespoons. If your pumpkin becomes too watery strain it with cheesecloth. You can freeze the pumpkin puree which should last about 6 months, or refrigerate it, which should last 5 days.

{Skin should peel away from pumpkin}