Every year Greg and I spend time searching for two perfect pumpkins for the front of our house. They need to be large, a nice front for Greg to carve a face, and about the same size so they are balanced in size. After going through boxes of pumpkins, below is a picture of the pumpkins that made it to our final pick. Next to the carving pumpkins was a box of cooking pumpkins. They are much smaller than a carving pumpkin. A carving pumpkin cost us about $10 – 12 whereas a cooking pumpkin is $3. We left the nursery that day without purchasing any cooking pumpkins.
After going through our wish list for what recipes to make this fall, Greg and I decided to go back to the nursery to purchase a few cooking pumpkins. We thought it was going to take a lot of time and effort to make our own pumpkin puree, but working as a team and having our own assembly approach made quick work of those pumpkins! Below is a picture of the cooking pumpkins – they are much smaller in size than a carving pumpkin. Also notice the rich, orange color. I am not sure if that makes a difference or not but they were nice to look at before we cooked them! We tried two different methods to “steam” the pumpkins using the stovetop and microwave. We are going to share both methods as neither is better than the other however if you are working with a few pumpkins it is great to have a couple of methods to use simultaneously.
We used our own assembly approach as we had pumpkins steaming on the stovetop and in the microwave while other pumpkins were being prepared or being puree.
The first step regardless of method is to wash the pumpkins with warm water and dry them. You do not want to get any dirt in your puree! The puree method is the same regardless how you steam your pumpkins and I share that information at the end of this post.
Pierce the pumpkin several times around the top of the pumpkin. (Greg had the job of doing all the carving.)
Place in microwave and cook for 5-minutes
Remove the pumpkin from the microwave. Carefully cut the pumpkin in half. It will be hot so use a potholder to keep the pumpkin steady while cutting it. We used a serrated knife (the same type we use to cut tomatoes) to keep it from slipping.
Clean out the seeds and pulp. Warming the pumpkin first makes it easier to clean. You can save the seeds and bake them for a treat later on!
Then place each pumpkin half cut side down in a microwavable safe bowl. Microwave for another 10 – 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from microwave and rest for 5-minutes to allow it to finish cooking and cool a bit.
If the pumpkin is properly cooked, the skin should easily peel off. You can see in the below picture on the right-hand side how the skin separates easily from the pumpkin. Scoop out the cooked pumpkin and place into a bowl.
Stove-Top Method for Steaming
Cut the pumpkin in half or quarters depending upon the size. Clean out the seeds and pulp. I like to use an ice cream scoop. While you are doing this, bring a pot of water to boil.
Do your best to clean out the seeds and pulp.
Add a steamer basket to your pot of water and place your sliced, cleaned pumpkin inside it – cut side down. After it has been cooking for a while, the pumpkin will reduce in size and I will cover the pot.
Steam for about 15 – 25 minutes until tender.
Carefully remove from the steamer basket. If the pumpkin is properly cooked, the skin should easily peel off. Scoop out the cooked pumpkin and place into a bowl. You can see in the below picture how easily the skin peels away from the pumpkin. If you need to work too much, place it back into the steamer basket for another minute or two.
Puree Your Pumpkin
Now you want to puree your pumpkin for a smooth consistency. You do not want any lumps in your puree. You can use a blender or a food processor. If your pumpkin is properly cooked, it will blend easily. If it does not, then place your pumpkin in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for another minute or two.
Place cooked pumpkin into your blender.
Cover and blend for a few minutes until smooth. Notice the beautiful, smooth consistency of the puree! Make sure there are not any lumps. If there are, continue to blend until smooth.
Pour into bowls and when cooled place in the refrigerator. You can freeze your pumpkin puree for up to 6-months. But I do not think mine will last long enough to freeze. Have fun making your existing recipes with your fresh pumpkin puree and trying new recipes! I will be posting some of my favorite pumpkin recipes and trying some new recipes with my freshly pureed pumpkin!