Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkin Puree is Easy As Can Be!

I love pumpkins.
I really do.  They are so iconic of all things fall.  They make me feel comfortable.  And hungry.

A couple weeks ago, a group of my friends got together and we took our kiddos to a pumpkin patch.  The kids had a blast and I was able to gather four pumpkins, cut fresh from the vine.  Mmmmm...

I love having fresh pumpkin puree for cakes, pies, breads, soups and baby food.  Now, people recommend baking your pumpkins all sorts of ways.  Some bake them upside down without water, some cut them into wedges and bake them upright but both result in dry and tough pumpkin.  And the words "dry" and "tough" have no place in pumpkin puree vocabulary.  

This is how my Mama taught me.


 Wash those pumpkins then cut them in half.  Let your toddler hold the knife and feel the power.
Or not.  My knives are extremely dull - but I guess they are sharp enough to cut a pumpkin.

So pretty :-)  Scoop out all the seeds and SAVE THEM.
Do not throw out the pumpkin seeds.  They are delicious roasted.

Take your scooped-out pumpkin halves and place them cut side down in a 9x13 baking pan.
Run a good inch of water into the bottom.

Place the pan into a 350* oven for an hour.  They will be nice and golden brown.  I had to do my 4 pumpkins in two batches.

If you want to let them set for a while, the cooling will create a vacuum and all the water will be sucked into the pumpkin hollow.  It makes a nifty sound when you pull out the pumpkins. 

Anyway, lift them out and let them cool for a while.  Save that water!  Once they are easy to handle, scoop out the innards with your left hand as you try to take a picture.  Then get pumpkin goo on your camera and wonder how actual food bloggers do it.

All's you have left is the shell.

"Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater, had a wife and couldn't keep her.  
He put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well." 

I have a toddler, mm'k?  Nursery rhymes are my life.

Put all that delicious pumpkin goodness in a bowl along with the saved water from the pans.  You DID save that water, didn't you?  I like to use the same water because it contains nutrients from the pumpkin - so why waste it?

Set up your food processor then have a stroke of genius and use your immersion blender.  

Oh, how I love thee, immersion blender. 

It took a while blending, but it worked quite well!  If you don't have an immersion blender, buy one right now, you can use your food processor or a blender.  A blender might require some additional water.

Here is the finished product.  My four, smallish pumpkins produced 16 cups of puree. That's four cups per pumpkin.  Not bad for $2 each!  That means $1 a can - and it's far fresher than anything you buy in the store.

I like to freeze my puree either in wide-mouthed glass jars (appropriate for freezing) or quart ziplock bags.  If you put it in ziplocks, be sure it's completely chilled first, so all those weird plastic-y things don't leach into your puree!  I've heard you should use it before a year passes, but I've never had a problem with that.

Now go forth and bake some scrumptious pumpkin goodies!  
You can certainly use this as baby food.  Just make sure it's completely blended before serving.

If you want to roast those seeds, mix them up with some coarse salt and a light drizzle of olive oil.  Put them in a pan and bake at 350* for about 15 minutes.  Once they are toasty brown, they are ready.  Eat as a snack, throw on salads, use as a garnish on soup - get down that yummy fiber!


Erika said...

Just one question, do you use sweet pumpkins? Or just the run of the mill pumpkin, 'cuz I htought you had to use the sweet ones.
That's all.

Hannah said...

The pumpkins I got were the "Oz" variety - a pie (or sweet) pumpkin. The pie pumpkins are smaller than jack-o-lanterns and bigger than the more decorative varieties. I know there are many different names, but if they are smaller than a big carving pumpkin and are rounder with less defined "ribs", it's probably a pie pumpkin. All pumpkins will work, but the smaller ones are sweeter. I've also heard that jacks tend to have more water in them and so the puree can be sludgy if you don't drain some liquid before blending.
This puree was so good I was licking it off the spoon so the Oz is certainly a sweet pumpkin!