Halloween pumpkins – big, bright and beautiful. And, yes they’re edible! Just look at this gorgeous homemade pumpkin puree.
Registered Dietitian Leslie Beck explains, pumpkins are “a good source of fibre, vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, and phosphorus. Like other orange-colored vegetables and fruits, pumpkins are very high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A.”
Those big pumpkins may not be as sweet and flavorful as the smaller “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins”, but you can still use those big pumpkins to add flavor and nutrients to roasted veggies soups, loaves, lattes and pies.
But a word of caution, if they’ve been carved into Jack ‘o Lanterns, don’t eat ’em. Within two hours of being carved, they become a haven for pathogens that make them no longer safe to eat. Add to that the soot released from a burning candle and those pumpkins are more dangerous than a herd (??) of zombies!
How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree or Any Squash Puree
To make your own pumpkin puree, pumpkins need to be cooked, cooled, scraped or peeled, and pureed. The puree can be frozen and used for up to a year.
The following technique can be used for large pumpkins, pie pumpkins and any other kind of winter squash.
For the 7lb pumpkin shown in the following photos, I ended up with 6 cups of puree.
Step 1 – Wash the Pumpkin or Squash
Step 2 – Cut Pumpkin/Squash in Half
Use a big serrated knife to saw through the pumpkin. Cut on one side of the stem to avoid having to cut through it.
Step 3 – Scoop out the Seeds and Strings
Save the seeds for roasting later. Check out the post on How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds. All winter squash seeds can be roasted and eaten.
Step 4 – Bake the Pumpkin/Squash Halves
Place pumpkin halves (or quarters if your pumpkin is super big) on a cookie sheet. Add 1/4 inch of water onto the pan. Bake at 180° C (350° F) oven until tender, about 60-90 minutes.
Step 5 – Scoop out the Flesh
Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to scrape out the flesh. Sometimes, the skin is so loose, that it’s actually easier to peel the skin off rather than scrape the flesh out.
Step 6 – Drain and Puree the Pumpkin
You can mash the pumpkin with a potato masher, put it through a food mill or puree it with an immersion blender or food processor. Pumpkin can be very watery, so be sure the pieces are well drained after cooking, then drain the puree again before storing. To drain, use a fine sieve, a colander lined with a coffee filter or a jelly bag and let sit for an hour or so after pureeing.
Squash like kabocha, buttercup, hubbard and butternut are less liquidy and likely don’t need to be drained.
Step 7 – Use or Freeze
Chances are you’ll get way more puree than you can use up right away. No problem, pumpkin puree will freeze for up to a year. Place pre-measured amounts in freezer bags, so you can pull out and thaw just the amount you need. I froze mine in one cup packages. By spreading the puree really thin and evenly, it freezes faster, stores flat in the freezer and thaws quickly.
Uses for Pumpkin of Squash Puree
What are you going to make with your pumpkin puree? Here are some of my favorite recipes
Thanks to the Canadian Home Economics Foundation for its support in helping me share ideas for making home cooking easy and enjoyable!
It is the support of the Foundation that makes it possible for me to test and prepare recipes to share on CTV Morning Live and on HomeFamily.net. Here’s a shot of me on the morning show, sharing tips on making your own pumpkin puree.
Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.