Kitchen Tips: How to make pumpkin puree

By | April 9, 2013


Most people I know don’t buy pumpkin regularly. I get that — it’s not milk, it’s not potatoes, and it’s not pasta. But pumpkin is one of those ingredients that gets a high mark for versatility. It’s wonderful in dips, sauces, soups, drinks, and baked goods. I know you can buy it in a can (at least in most areas), but making it at home is easy and healthier.

And if you freeze it in half-cup portions (yes, that’s what I do), there will be nothing holding you back from making things like pumpkies. Those are fantastic, by the way. You should really try them.

Here’s what you do:

Start with a chunk of fresh pumpkin. My grocery sells them in pieces like the one in this photo, covered in plastic wrap. Cube it up, cutting the orange flesh away from the pale rind. If there are any seeds and stringy parts, scoop those out and discard. (Or toast the seeds, if you’re feeling really resourceful.)


You can either steam or boil the pumpkin. Since steaming helps retain its nutrients, I usually go for that option.


Check after 10-15 minutes to see how it’s coming along. If the largest pieces are soft when poked with a knife, you’re good to go. If you boiled the pumpkin, drain well. If you steamed it, then you just saved yourself a step.


Scoop the pumpkin into a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth. Alternatively, if you don’t need as smooth a texture, you can mash by hand with a potato masher or fork.

Transfer the puree in batches to a fine mesh strainer and use a spoon to press it firmly against the strainer so that any excess water drains out.

And that’s it! I find that most recipes call for pumpkin in half-cup portions (i.e. ½ cup, 1 cup, 1½ cups), so I freeze half-cup scoops on a baking sheet until firm, then wrap those in plastic wrap and seal in a big Ziploc.

What I never do is spoon some into a pretty dish and put it on top of a pretty plate.


…That was just for the photos.

Things to make with fresh pumpkin puree:

One year ago: Mountainside pony ride


Sarah Nehrer on April 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm.

I have been told that “d’la’at” sold in Israel is not really like American pumpkin and doesn’t taste or act the same in recipes. You seem to disagree. Can you comment?


Tali Simon on April 10, 2013 at 10:48 pm.

Since I was already living in Israel when I really started cooking, I can’t tell you from experience. But what I can say is that the stuff sold here has worked without exception in all of the American recipes calling for pumpkin that I’ve tried.


Hindy on April 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm.

I definitely prefer fresh pumpkin to the canned variety. This how-to and recipes are great!


Yiscah on April 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm.

In America, they don’t sell pumpkins like that. They are sold around October but as decorations. You can always get pumpkin filling but I have never seen pumpkins sold with the intention to eat them. Do you remember if the health stores (which u know how often I frequent!) sell any?


Sarah Nehrer on April 10, 2013 at 8:21 am.

I bought pie pumpkins in the US many times. They are the smaller ones sold in grocery stores to eat, not decorate, but only around October-November. Season is quite short.


Tali Simon on April 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm.

I was curious about this, so I called three U.S. grocery store chains to see whether they currently have fresh pumpkin in stock. They all said the same thing: it’s only available in October. So for those of you in the States, consider this a fall kitchen tip. You can stock up then for several months’ worth of pumpkin recipes. :)


Prag on April 10, 2013 at 11:42 am.

Love simple recipes like this one that are healthy and practical.


jessica // the kosher foodies on April 10, 2013 at 8:24 pm.

i LOVE pumpkin! this is such a great idea!


stephanie/the kosher foodies on April 11, 2013 at 2:37 am.

i’ve never seen pumpkin sold cubed like that, even around halloween/thanksgiving time. but i do love cooking with pumpkin!


Tali Simon on April 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm.

I haven’t seen it cubed either, just hacked into sections and wrapped in plastic.


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