Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

I love pumpkin.  It's got a weird name, a weird shape, a weird flavor, and is stuck being the mascot of Halloween.  Willing or unwilling, we'll never know.  For whatever reason, this winter squash and I get on well.  I've used canned pumpkin for lots of different things -to replace some of the butter/oil in baking, to make bread, pie, macaroni and cheese, and soup.  I've even eaten it plain with blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup.  Ok, more than a drizzle.  Bottom line, I love pumpkin, and I am headed to a place where the cheerful orange Libby's cans will be lacking (or cost $10 apiece which is pretty much the same thing).  With two uncarved pumpkins left over from Halloween, I figured it was time to make my own roasted, pureed pumpkin.  Here's how to do it.

You'll need a big knife, a pumpkin (mine was about the size of a cantaloup), a lasagna pan, and a chopping board.  The flowers are optional, but they do look lovely with the pumpkin.

You'll want to start by washing your squash.  This isn't absolutely vital, since you won't be using the outside, but mine had been sitting in the garage for the better part of three months, so I thought it would be a good idea.  Once you have washed, slice the thing in half.  It works best if you break the stem off right at the top, turn it over, and stick the knife right in the middle of the bottom.  Pumpkins are hollow and have thin skins, so the slicing bit isn't super hard.  It'll look like this when it's done:

Now for the fun part.  You have to pull the seeds, membranes, and etc. out of your pumpkin.  I used a combination of my hands, a knife, and a big spoon to clean them out.  Save the seeds for roasting!  When your pumpkin halves are clear, place them sliced-side down in your lasagna pan and fill it about a 1/4-1/2 inch with water.  Put the pan in a 375 degree oven for between 35 and 45 minutes or until a knife slides cleanly and easily into the side of the squash.  The larger the pumpkin the more time this will take, and vice versa.

Once they're the desired softness, remove them from the oven and let them cool for 10-15 minutes.  Then flip them over and use a spoon to scoop the meat out.  This shouldn't be hard if you've cooked them for long enough.  I scooped mine directly into the blender.

If during the scooping process your pumpkin-loving dog wants some, indulge her.  Pumpkin is good for dogs.

Pumpkin scooped?  Check.  Dog happy?  Check.  Time to blend.  Set your blender to puree.  You may have to stop every 15 seconds to tamp the pumpkin down and break any air bubbles up.  Keep going until it looks something like this:

You'll notice that it is lighter than the kind from the can.  It has a sweeter, softer flavor too.  I find the canned kind bitter and a little acidic, this is definitely not like that.  I got about three cups from my cantaloup-sized pumpkin.  It will keep in the freezer for a long, long time and in the fridge for a week or so.  I got busy and baked about a cup of it into muffins.  Here's to a pumpkin-filled semester abroad :)

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