It’s pumpkin-everything season around here, with fresh pumpkins on the porch and canned pumpkin in the pantry. For years people have used the canned variety for all kinds of pumpkin recipes. Think pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, or a variety of pumpkin desserts.
But what if there was something better than canned pumpkin? What if there was something that you could be sure was pumpkin and not some other type of squash? Because canned pumpkin might be all pumpkin, or . . . it might actually be another type of squash. That’s right. Pumpkin is a type of squash, and under FDA guidelines, canned pumpkin can be made with a number of different types of squash – one of which is pumpkin.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with using canned pumpkin (squash). But if you want to be sure that what you’re using is pumpkin, why not make it yourself? It’s super easy to find pumpkins at grocery stores, hardware stores, farmer’s markets, or apple orchards, especially in the fall. So, when you’re out shopping, look for the smaller pumpkins, like pie pumpkins, and try making your own pumpkin puree. It’s not hard to roast pumpkin. And I promise you’ll like the results. You really can’t beat the flavor.
Making homemade pumpkin puree is also a wonderful way to use up any pie pumpkins you may have had around for decorations instead of dumping them in the garbage. Plus, you can save the seeds and make roasted pumpkin seeds!
To start with, make sure you choose the right pumpkin. While the bigger pumpkins are fun to carve and decorate and put out on the porch, they’re not the best choice for cooking. Instead, look for pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins. They’re smaller, have a smoother texture when cooked, and have more of that slightly sweet pumpkin flavor you love.
After that, it’s easy peasy. Turn on your oven, cut your pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, and roast. When it’s done, scoop out the soft flesh and puree in your blender or food processor. Done. Now, it’s a little more involved than that, but not much. And I have all the directions on how to roast pumpkin for you below on the recipe card.
How to Roast Pumpkin for Pumpkin Puree
- 1 small pie or sugar pumpkin about 4 to 8 pounds
- Olive oil
- Cutting board
- Sharp chef's knife
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash and dry pumpkin. Remove the stem if desired or cut through it while cutting the pumpkin.
- Using a sharp chef's knife (or other large kitchen knife), carefully cut the pumpkin in half vertically (from top to bottom or bottom to top). Scoop seeds out of each pumpkin half and save for roasting later.
- Brush the cut side of each have with a little olive oil and place face down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 375°F for about 60 minutes or until a paring knife easily pierces the shell of the pumpkin. The pumpkin shell should be darker and easily indented.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Turn the pumpkin halves over and scoop cooked pumpkin flesh out of the shell and into a food processor or blender with a spoon. Cover and process until smooth, scraping sides occasionally (about 2-3 minutes).
- Use immediately in recipes, or refrigerate for up to a week in a clean, covered container. Puree may also be poured into clean freezer containers, covered, and frozen for later use.