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:
- Pumpkin chummus
- Pumpkin black bean soup
- Pumpkin, white bean, and lentil soup (The recipe calls for cubed pumpkin, but you can also use puree. Stir in one cup of puree in step 2.)
- Pumpkin pizza
- Pumpkin fettucine alfredo (I made this recently and thought it needed at least double the pumpkin called for in the recipe.)
- Pumpkin cornbread
- Pumpkin gingersnaps
- Pumpkies (pumpkin chocolate chip bars)
- Sugar-coated pumpkin spice mini muffins
- Pumpkin pie latte
One year ago: Mountainside pony ride
You will need:
- Fresh pumpkin
- Pot for boiling OR pot and steamer for steaming
- Blender/food processor for pureeing OR potato masher/fork for mashing
- Fine mesh strainer
1. Cube your pumpkin, cutting the bright orange flesh away from the pale rind. Discard any seeds and stringy parts. (Or toast them.)
2. Boil or steam the pumpkin until tender, checking after 10-15 minutes. Once a knife easily pokes the largest pieces, it’s done. If you boiled, drain well.
3. Transfer pumpkin to a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth. If a 100% smooth texture is not important to you, mash by hand with a potato masher or fork.
4. Spoon puree (in batches) into a fine mesh strainer. Press the puree against the strainer with a spoon to release excess water.
5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop puree into a half-cup measure (or whatever size you’ve chosen for your stash) and tap it out onto the baking sheet. Freeze until firm (20-30 minutes should be enough) and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Store in a sealed bag until ready to use. To defrost, leave in the fridge overnight or on the counter for 2-3 hours.