5 Tricks for Making Fresh Pumpkin Puree
#1: Don't use the wrong kind of pumpkin.
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Come Thanksgiving, it’s natural to imagine pumpkin confections bejewling your holiday table and filling the air with heavenly spiced aromas. And quite often, we have canned pumpkin to thank for these desserts. Not to be dramatic, but canned pumpkin puree is and always will be one of man’s greatest achievements. However, due to the surge in baking this year, there may be difficulty finding it. So let’s un-can pumpkin and explore just how easy it is to make your own fresh pumpkin puree (it’s actually quite easy). Read on for five key tips.
1. Choose the Correct Pumpkin Variety
Surprise, the jack-o-lantern, also known as the carving pumpkin, is not our first pick here. Carving pumpkins are more fibrous and watery than other types of gourds. Please delegate these orange beauties strictly to ghoul, ghost and witch carvings on your front stoop. Instead, the most common pumpkin variety for pureeing is called the sugar pumpkin (also known as the pie pumpkin). Its firm flesh cooks down and becomes lusciously soft and creamy, making it perfect for pumpkin puree. Select a sugar pumpkin that’s firm, smooth and heavy for its size without any soft spots or bruises. You can also use several other varieties to make fresh pumpkin puree, including Baby Pam, Lumina or Cinderalla/Fairy Tale.
2. Roast Your Way to Pumpkin Puree
The most common way to make pumpkin puree is to simply roast your pumpkin in the oven, just like Alton Brown. Fire up your oven to 400 degrees, roll up your sleeves and halve the pumpkin with a sharp chef’s knife. Scoop out those pumpkin seeds and save them for later (roasted and spiced, they’re an extra treat). Roast the pumpkin until the flesh is tender, then scoop it out and puree it in a food processor until its smooth.
3. Or Make Pumpkin Puree in the Instant Pot
If you have an Instant Pot, great news: you can pressure cook an entire pumpkin to make pumpkin puree. Smaller, three- to four-pound pumpkins work best here. Simply place the pumpkin on a trivet with 1 cup of water and cook the pumpkin on high pressure for 15 minutes, then do a natural steam release. Finally, scoop out the flesh and whizz it up in a food processor until smooth. Here’s the full how-to.
4. Use This Trick to Concentrate Pumpkin Flavor
If your pumpkin puree is too watery for your liking, no sweat. Grab a clean linen (preferably one that you don’t mind turning orange), or a double-lined piece of cheese cloth, and drape the cloth over a fine mesh strainer or colander set inside a bowl. Transfer the puree into the fabric, twist the fabric up and around the puree and wring out the puree. Then place the bundle into the strainer and let it sit in the fridge for at least one hour or up to overnight, until the puree holds its shape when you run the end of a spatula through it. The more water you remove from the puree, the more intense the pumpkin flavor will be. And who doesn’t love that?
5. How to Store Fresh Pumpkin Puree
Before storing your freshly made pumpkin puree, make sure to cool it completely. Then stash it in an airtight container in the fridge for about one week or in the freezer forup to six months.
This year has come with its own challenges, but making delicious pumpkin puree does not have to be one of them. It’s slightly more effort than buying the canned stuff, but it most definitely will not be lost on the lucky ones who taste your delicious pumpkin creation. There is a lot of beauty in saying: "I made this from SCRATCH." Let us take pride in that notion. Happy Pureeing! Happy Baking!