Each autumn we’re treated to the delectable aromas and flavors of pumpkin and spice. Fall and winter holidays wouldn’t be the same without an old-fashioned pumpkin pie, but it all starts with pumpkin puree. There’s been a shortage of canned pumpkin these days, but fret not! Making purée from fresh pumpkins is easier than you think, and rewarding to your taste buds.
Start By Selecting The Right Pumpkin
“Pie pumpkins” or “sweet pumpkins” are the best varieties of pumpkins for cooking. They are smaller than traditional jack-o-lantern pumpkins and have sweeter, less watery flesh (don’t cook with jack-o-lanterns!). Select a pumpkin with a stem at least one to two inches long. Stems shorter than this will hasten the pumpkin’s decay. Misshapen pumpkins are fine for cooking, but avoid any with soft spots or blemishes.
Cooking Fresh Pumpkin, Step By Step
Step 1: Prepare the pumpkin
Remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy mass, then rinse. (Save those pumpkin seeds to roast for a healthy treat!)
Step 2 – Cook
The pumpkin may be cooked in one of the following ways:
- Boil or Steam: Cut the pumpkin into large chunks and place in a large pot with one cup of water. Cover and boil 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Alternatively, the pumpkin may be placed in a steamer basket and steamed for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Oven (Preferred method): Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut the pumpkin into large chunks and place skin side down on a roasting pan or baking pan with a thin layer of water. Cover with foil and bake for approximately one hour or until tender. Scrape the flesh into a food processor; purée until smooth. (You can also use a potato masher). See how easy?
- Microwave: Place pumpkin halves, skin side down, in microwave-safe bowl with a couple inches of water. Cook on high, covered, for 15 minutes. If pumpkin is not tender, continue cooking at 1-to-2-minute intervals until done.
With all three methods, allow the cooked pumpkin to cool and then remove the rind. Place the pumpkin in a food processor or blender and purée. Each pound of raw, untrimmed pumpkin will yield approximately one cup of purée. Pumpkin purée may be frozen for up to one year.
Use Your Pumpkin Purée In These Delicious Recipes
2 egg yolks
1 cup pumpkin
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons melted shortening
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup flour
2 egg whites, beaten until fluffy
Beat egg yolks; add pumpkin, milk, and shortening. Sift baking powder, salt, sugar, and flour. Add to pumpkin mixture and stir. Gently fold in beaten egg whites. Fry on a hot griddle.
Pumpkin Pound Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 eggs, separated (at room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin
Powdered sugar for dusting
In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth. Gradually add in brown sugar. Add vanilla and beat for approximately 3 minutes. Gradually add beaten egg yolks. Add pumpkin puree and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, and mix well. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gently fold whites into pumpkin batter. Spoon batter into a greased tube or Bundt pan. Bake in the lower third of the oven, 45 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow cake to cool 10 minutes, then invert onto a cake plate. Once the cake completely cools, dust with powdered sugar.