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Fresh Pumpkin Puree

October 26, 2012
by Shannon Hepburn

If you’ve never tried cooking with fresh pumpkin puree I encourage you to give it a whirl. You’ll find the flavor and texture different from canned puree. Not better or worse, just different. Fresh puree tends to have a more delicate pumpkin flavor and lighter texture. The canned stuff is pretty dense and what most of us are accustomed to eating. One more thing, don’t be tempted to make fresh puree from a jack-o-lantern pumpkin. Because of their larger size, the flesh tends to less flavorful and the texture can be spongy & stringy – not so appealing.  Below you’ll see two options for finishing your puree.  Option #1 is the speedier of the two and option #2 is a bit more labor intensive and offers the most delectable puree.  I tend to go with speedy – but just in case you’re feeling like taking the extra time to play around, I thought I’d give you a choice.  Stay tuned this week for recipes featuring pumpkin puree.

Fresh Pumpkin Puree
  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. Split the pumpkin in half, cut out the stem and scrape the insides clean - just as you would with a jack-o-lantern. Cut into quarters and place rind side down on a lightly oiled roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake for an hour and 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes until the flesh is extremely tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. This may seem like an extraordinarily long time to bake, but part of your goal is to reduce the moisture content in the pumpkin so you end up with a lush puree rather than a watery puree.
  4. OPTION #1: When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scrape off the flesh from the rind and whiz through a food processor until super smooth.
  5. OPTION #2: When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scrape off the flesh from the rind and mash with a fork. Line a colander with three layers of cheesecloth that has been pre-rinsed in hot water and wrung out. Spoon the pumpkin into the colander and wrap the extra cheesecloth over the top of the pumpkin. Place a round pan or flat bottomed bowl on top of the pumpkin and weigh it down with a few canned goods. Put the colander in the sink to drain for one hour. Finish by pureeing the pumpkin in a food processor until completely smooth. Can be stored covered in the fridge for 2 days or frozen until ready to use.
  6. The ratio of fresh pumpkin to puree is roughly 5:1. Five pounds of fresh pumpkin yields roughly one pound of puree - enough for a pumpkin pie.