This summer I set quite the goal for myself and I’ve followed through on pretty much everything I wanted to try and some stuff I didn’t know I wanted to try! I do think I’m done canning and freezing stuff for this winter tho, mostly because I’m getting swamped with school work and trying to make sure I have “me” time. I’ve got a lot of food put away and I honestly doubt I’ll eat it all before next summer, although I hope I get close so I can make some room for next years canning because otherwise I need to move to have more cupboard space.
The key to making good pumpkin puree is to buy Sugar or Pie Pumpkins. They’re quite a bit smaller then jack-o-lantern pumpkins, usually about 3-5 lbs is a good size. You want them this size for a few reasons, the first one is that fitting a 20-30lb pumpkin in your oven is going to be a challenge, and we don’t want a challenge. Another important reason is because the bigger the pumpkin, the more stringy and tough the pumpkin flesh.
I’ve realized while writing this, that this isn’t so much of a recipe as it is a process but I’m ok with that, it really is easy. Preheat your oven to 350 C. The most difficult part is the first bit. You need to cut your pumpkin into halves or quarters and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. You can save the seeds for roasting, but I got frustrated with trying to separate them from the stringy stuff and gave up after about 20 minutes. Patience I do not have.
Once you have some nice cleaned pumpkin halves or quarters, place them cut side down in a roasting dish or 9×13″ pan and put about 1″ of water in the bottom. Roast in the oven until the pumpkin is discoloured and you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork. Let pumpkin cool till you can handle it, then scoop the pumpkin meat into a bowl.
Once you have all your pumpkin meat in a bowl, process it in your food processor (or high powered blender…or regular blender in very small batches) till smooth. The smoother the better, it will end up looking a lot more like bought canned pumpkin if it’s smooth. Your pumpkin will be a lot more yellow-orange then canned pumpkin, so don’t think it’s wrong if it looks different! Once all your pumpkin is nice and smooth, you want to line a collander with cheesecloth and put all your puree in there. Place the collander in a larger bown to catch the liquid and let it sit, in the fridge, for at least 24 hours.
Keeping it in the fridge is VERY IMPORTANT so nasty bacterias don’t grow on your pumpkin! Letting it sit is also rather important, especially if you want your pumpkin to act like canned pumpkin from the store later on. Normally the pumpkin you buy in cans is “solid pack” pumpkin. A lot of the moisture has been removed from it, making it more solid. You’ll probably get quite a bit of pumpkin juice out of your pumpkin, but the overall volume doesn’t decrease that much.
Once your pumpkin has drained, portion it into ziploc freezer bags, about 2 cups per bag is good and store in the freezer. Letting them freeze flat works best for easy storage. Pumpkin will keep about 6-8 months in the freezer, maybe up to a year. I had 6 Pie pumpkins that I purchased from a local farmer. I paid about $18 for them and got approximately 20 cups of pumpkin puree from them. It’s much, much cheaper and most of the prep is waiting!
I ❤ pumpkin.