It's fall and all we want to do is eat pumpkin this and pumpkin that. Making your own pumpkin puree at home is first of all cheaper, it's easier to control the ingredients (the 1 ingredient!) and it is so EASY. There really shouldn't be any excuse left to buy canned pumpkin puree.
Because we're making pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies all fall long, it's always nice to know you have a lot of delicious pumpkin puree in the freezer. Because it keeps so well in the freezer you can have homemade pumpkin puree almost the entire year!
What Kind of Pumpkin Do I Use for Pumpkin Puree?
Technically, you can use all kinds of pumpkins or winter squashes. In the photos here I'm using a butternut squash, but it is the same process with all the pumpkins. But not all pumpkins will taste as good.
The big Halloween pumpkins that you carve Jack O'Lanterns into are watery, stringy and tastes a little bland. It's no shame in using that if that is all you've got. I've done it before, and I will probably do it again.
The best pumpkins are those labelled as sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins, for example Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider (omg this is the coolest pumpkin name ever), Cinderella and Fairy Tale. I must say, I am impressed by the ones naming these beauties.
But just as a major side note; the cookbook author Melissa Clark has tried a bunch of different pumpkins and squashes to make pumpkin pie and the best one turned out to be the one with butternut squash. Butternut squash happens to be my favorite to make into pumpkin puree too, although some would argue that I can't call it pumpkin puree.
Michelin has summarized this, and the best pumpkins and squashes for pumpkin puree are
- Japanese Kabocha Squash - sweeter than a butternut squash, almost like a cross between sweet potato and pumpkin. When cooked it is rich and creamy - perfect for pumpkin puree!
- Butternut Squash - sweet and known for its versatility. Does not have much strings, which makes it perfect for cooking and purees.
- Sugar pumpkins - smaller, bright orange, very sweet and a little nutty.
All these are perfect to bake, roast, puree and to make into stews. There are of course a lot of other edible pumpkins and squashes, like the spaghetti squash, but I don't think I would like that kind of stringy puree.
Is canned pumpkin and pumpkin puree the same?
Yes. But what you need to make sure is to not choose the can that says pumpkin pie filling, this also includes spices and sugar. But as an example, Nestlé LIBBY's canned pumpkin is 100% pumpkin. They may use a variety of pumpkin and squashes in these as well, and that is simply because squashes actually taste better than pumpkins. So go ahead and make pumpkin puree out of butternut squash, like I do.
Canned pumpkin is ridiculously expensive in Norway, and so I never buy it. It is almost no effort into making your own pumpkin puree and you can keep it in the freezer to always have pumpkin puree ready at your finger tips!
How to cut open a pumpkin or butternut squash
This method is only recommended if your pumpkin or squash can be steadied with one hand, in the range of 3-4 pounds (1.3-1.8 kg). If they're bigger you might need to use a saw.
The easiest way to cut open a butternut squash is to slice off a thin slice at the bottom, to make the squash sturdier. Also chop off the very top too, to get rid of the stem. Let the butternut stand on your chopping board, keep it steady, while you run a big and heavy knife through the middle, lengthwise.
Now you have two similar sized chunks of butternut squash. Scoop out the seeds using either a spoon or an ice cream scoop. Reserve the seeds for later, they are excellent to roast (see recipe below).
Similar techniques can be used to open up sugar pumpkins. Take a big and heavy knife, insert the tip of the knife into the top of the pumpkin (next to the stem) and push it in. Carefully push the knife down, while wiggling a little to make the crack wider. Once you've gotten all the way through, do the same on the other side of the pumpkin.
The only thing holding the pumpkin together now, should be the stem. Just pull the two parts apart with your hands, and it should crack at the stem.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
To not let anything go to waste, I love to roast the pumpkin seeds. Pull the strings away from the pumpkin seeds and rinse them under water. Spread them evenly on a baking tray and let them dry completely. Drizzle with olive oil and whatever seasonings you like. I love to use sea salt, smoked paprika, a tiny pinch cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
Mix together so that all the seeds have olive oil and spices on them. Spread them out evenly again. Bake at 350C (180C) for 10-15 minutes or until they are golden. Let cool before you store them in an airtight container. I usually just snack on them the same day, so I never get to that stage.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree at Home
You have chosen your pumpkin or butternut, you have chopped it in half. That was all the hard work of this so called recipe. Take the chopped halves of pumpkin or squash and place them with the cut side down on a baking sheet* lined with parchment paper (for easy clean-up).
* However, you can also peel the butternut and cut it in cubes if you don't want to handle the hot skin afterwards. This can also reduce the roasting time to about 30 minutes (or until fork tender).
Pre-heat your oven to 375F (190C). Let them roast for approximately 40-60 minutes or until the skin of the pumpkin/squash gives in if you press it with a fork (aka fork tender). Let the pumpkin/squash cool for 5-10 minutes before you peel the skin off with your fingers or a knife. Discard the skin.
Place the skinned pumpkin/squash into a blender and blend until smooth. There you have it!
Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for 7 days. To freeze: I like to add 1 cup of pumpkin puree into a ziplock bag, smooth it out into the entire bag. This eliminates air and it will thaw quicker. Keeps well in the freezer for 8-12 months, in line with MatPrat's guidelines (in Norwegian I'm afraid), although I see a lot of others say 4-5 months. I've used 11 month old pumpkin puree and didn't notice any difference.
Homemade pumpkin puree can be a little more watery than canned (especially if you used a big Halloween pumpkin) and you may need to reduce other liquids in a recipe. You can also run the pumpkin puree through a cheesecloth to remove that excess liquid.
Now that you have a bunch of delicious pumpkin puree in your fridge or freezer, you'll be more than ready to try out all these recipes using pumpkin puree.
Use Your Pumpkin Puree in These Delicious Recipes
Pumpkin puree is delicious both in savory and sweet dishes, and so I'm dividing them up here.
- Pumpkin Créme Brûlèe
- Pumpkin White Chocolate Muffins with Streusel Topping
- Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Healthy Spiced Pumpkin Soufflé with Maple Pecans and Cream Cheese
- Easy Blender Pumpkin Spice Latte
- Pumpkin Brown Butter Rolls
- Pumpkin Banana Muffins
Pumpkin will always be a favorite in sweet recipes. The pumpkin creme brulee is like a pumpkin pie, just much better with that crackly caramelized sugar top. Pumpkin white chocolate muffins are so moist and perfectly spiced, and then there's the super iconic Fall drink the pumpkin spice latte. I mean, it's pumpkin hysteria during the Fall for a reason!
A few sweet recipes from my favorite bloggers:
- The Best Pumpkin Pancakes from Plated Cravings
- Pumpkin Spice Beer Cake from Vintage Kitty
- Whole Wheat Pumpkin Quick Bread from Living Lou
- Pumpkin Sage Brown Butter Soup
- Moroccan Butternut and Chevre Soup with Ginger Cream
- Creamy Parmesan Pumpkin Pasta
So both the soup recipes do not use pumpkin puree per se, but there's no issue in swapping the butternut cubes with pumpkin puree to make an even quicker soup. I also know I've used the same toppings on both soups, but that is also because it is super yum. Pasta is so good with pumpkin as well, I can't get enough of it! I still have a lot of pumpkin puree in my freezer and I'm totally making a new batch of parmesan pumpkin pasta really soon.
And a few savory recipes from my favorite bloggers:
- Pumpkin Parmesan Risotto with Bacon from Cheese Curd in Paradise
- Vegan Pumpkin Pasta from Stacey Homemaker
- Slow Cooker Turkey Pumpkin Chili from This Healthy Table
I know it's hard to choose when there's so many delicious recipes! If it's your first time having anything pumpkin, the most iconic is of course the pumpkin spice latte. I would also whip up a batch of pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies and pumpkin quick bread. All so yummy!
Have a wonderful rest of the Fall, and now we can freeze pumpkin puree to have an all year pumpkin party - yay!
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