Thursday, November 18, 2010

How to make your own pumpkin puree

Ain't nothin' wrong with Libby's, but ya'll should try this some time. 

Hello little sweeties.  You looked great on my front porch for awhile, but I've got other plans for you.
Begin by slicing off the top of the pumpkin, just as you would if you were carving it.
You'll want to use a very sharp knife and be very careful.
And here we see the triumph of the knife.  Even with this really sharp knife, I had a hard time removing the tops.  The pumpkins were very resistant.
Next, you'll want to cut the pumpkins in half, revealing all of their seeds.  I don't think it matters which way you halve them, but I cut from top to bottom simply because I had more knife control.
I like to use an ice cream scoop to get out all of the seeds.  Don't worry about getting all the pulp; you can get the pesky parts out easier after it's roasted.
Don't throw the seeds away.  You can make a nice and healthy snack with those later.
Quarter the pumpkins and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Some people add a little oil and salt, but I'm a pumpkin purist.  I left them naked and placed them into a preheated 350 degree oven.

Here's what they look like when they're done: the same, with fork marks.  The roasting time depends on the thickness of your pumpkins, but it will take at least 45 minutes.  You'll want them to be fork tender.  Mine took almost an hour.

After they've cooled for a few minutes but are still warm, you can easily remove the skin from the meat of the pumpkin.  Place chunks of the pumpkin in your food processor.

Then just whirl away!  You'll probably need to add a couple ounces of water to help smooth it out while it processes.  I recommend doing this in batches so as to not overcrowd your machine.

You can see that from my first batch I got a little over 3 cups of puree.

I measured out 2 cups per freezer bag.  I ended up with just under 6 cups of puree altogether.  Economically speaking, it's probably not any different to buy canned or make your own.  It depends on how much you pay for your little pie pumpkins.  It is definitely more economic if you grow your own, though.
It's important to note that you probably don't want to do this with big carving pumpkins.  I've heard of people doing it, but it's a different flavor and texture altogether.  I'm always an advocate of doing things yourself if for no other reason than to feel more connected to what you're eating.  Anything you make at home is still going to be healthier than something processed in a big factory.  Besides, this was a lot of fun and not that messy.  It would be a great activity to try with your kids.  I can't wait to try it in some pies next week!

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