Garden to Kitchen: Pumpkin Puree

I am the girl who usually gets her pumpkin puree from a can, but this year I was inspired by all the garden-to-kitchen happenings in our home, so I decided to try my hand at making our own puree.  I’m planning to use the puree in several different recipes, so I needed to start with this basic step before venturing further.  Turned out it wasn’t so hard* (though definitely more work than opening a can), and the end result worked out great.  Here’s how it went down…
 
We got some of our pumpkins on our farm day at Ticonderoga Farms in Chantilly, and the others were a stroke of good luck at Greenstreet Gardens in Alexandria.  (Arlington/Alexandria locals may remember Greenstreet as Apple House Nursery.  If you haven’t stopped by since last year’s management turnover, please do yourself a favor and check it out — the Greenstreet folks are awesome.)   So I popped by Greenstreet to get a pumpkin, and it turned out they were hauling away all the leftover post-Halloween pumpkins.  So the lovely woman running the show told me to “have at it,” and take as many as I wanted — which is exactly what I did.  I ended up with nine pumpkins of varying shapes, sizes and colors — I wanted to try one of each variety.
 

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A few of the varieties I used to make our pumpkin puree — Acorn, Casper White, Sugar, and I’m not sure what the large one is — possibly Lunar White or Jarrahdale.

 
I had a grand vision of doing taste-tests of each variety, and cataloging the outcome of each based on flavor, consistency, cooking times, etc.  However, that vision quickly went to the birds once I was elbow deep into my third pumpkin.  So I ended up enlisting my trusty sous-chef to take over the dirty work, and he embraced his task with great fervor.
 

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My son decided this job called for nothing less than construction goggles, gloves, and a bare torso.  The pumpkin didn’t stand a chance.

 

So we halved and cleaned out the pumpkins…

 

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…Then popped them into the oven for about an hour to roast.

 

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Once they were cooked through, we let them cool, and the skins just peeled right off.

 

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From there, we scooped the pumpkin into a bowl…

 

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…And pureed it with an immersion blender.  You could also put it into a food processor or blender and get the same results.

 

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And voila, pumpkin puree!  This can now be stored in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.  I’ll use this in several different recipes over the coming weeks.  Buen provecho!

 

Pumpkin Puree

Ingredients:

Pumpkins — any baking variety (I used Sugar, Acorn, Casper White and Jarrahdale)

 

Directions:

Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out the innards (seeds and slimy web-like stuff).  Place the halves flesh-side-down on a foil-lined baking sheet, and roast for about an hour at 400 degrees.  (The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your pumpkin.  You can test it by sliding a knife into the flesh — it should slide in easily, and the flesh will feel soft.)  Once the flesh is soft, remove the pan from the oven and let the pumpkin cool for about 30 minutes, or until it’s comfortable to touch.  Peel the skin off — it should come right off (if not, it might need to be cooked a bit longer).  Transfer the pumpkin to a bowl and use an immersion blender to puree it (or transfer it to a blender or food processor and give it a puree).  Use the puree in your favorite pumpkin recipes.  Eat.  Love.

 

[*Ok, so it was actually a lot more work than opening a can, and to be honest, I’m not sure I’d do it again. If I could find a good, all-natural puree at the store, I’d probably buy it. But it was good to know this is an option, and my son and I had fun testing out the process. Who knows, maybe next year (when my muscles have recovered from cleaning out heaps of pumpkin innards) we’ll give it another go. Perhaps it might not be as Herculean an effort if we don’t do nine pumpkins at once. Just a hunch.]

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