I know you’ve probably seen a ton of tutorials on how to make your own pumpkin puree for a truly from scratch pumpkin pie. I noticed that almost all of them use pie pumpkins which are small, sweet, and well, perfect for dessert. It’s easy enough to cut them into wedges and steam them in your pot on the stove.
That won’t work for these bad boys.
I make a lot of savory dishes with my pumpkin, so a big ol’ (cheap) Jack O’Lantern pumpkin suits me just fine. These guys were $2.99 and are from local farmers – total weight is 22 pounds. This should yield 20-22 cups of pumpkin puree, plus a bunch of seeds.
If you make a jack-o-lantern with markers and paint, just scrape the paint off or use a vegetable peeler to remove the painted skin.This will also work with carved pumpkins as long as they are fairly fresh and not moldy. If it’s rotting, moldy inside (not just on the skin), leaking liquid, or smells bad – throw it out! Make sure to cut out any candle wax residue or brown spots.
Cut your pumpkin in half. One of mine had a brown spot where the sticker was. Cut out any bad parts.
Remove the seeds, if you haven’t already. Save them and make some crispy pumpkin seeds. Mmm, free pepitos! Bestill my frugal heart. An ice cream scoop or large metal spoon works best for this and will cut through the strings.
Put them cut side down on a cookie sheet (the kind with sides, sometimes called a jelly roll pan) and add a little bit of water. Bake at 350° for 60-90 minutes. I used a cookie sheet and some roasting pans and shoved it all in the oven.
When done, you should be able to easily pierce it with a fork. The skin will be a burnt orange. Let it cool, and it will wrinkle up like an old man.
Using your spoon or ice cream scooper from before, scoop out the flesh.
You’ll be left with the rind, which is thinner than watermelon but still pretty tough. Throw it out or compost it.
Large jack o’lantern type pumpkins have more water than pie pumpkins, so if you want to make puree you’ll need to drain of some water. I’m using one of my pumpkins for soup, so I’m only draining one.
Get out your super fancy vegetable press.
Weigh it down and let it sit for an hour or six. If you drain it for more than an hour, stick it in the fridge.
Save the pumpkin water! It’s full of vitamins. Use it in breads or pancakes. Save it in ice cube trays for a nutrition boost for chilis and strews.
After it’s been drained, throw it in your blender or food processor or use a hand blender to smooth it out. If you don’t have those, you can use a ricer or just mash it my hand.
You must use a pressure canner to can pumpkin – do not try to waterbath can it. I freeze it in 1/2 c. portions because most of my recipes call for 1/2-1 c. portions. A muffin cup holds right about 1/2 cup. After it’s frozen I’ll transfer it to a zippered freezer bag.
Ta-da! 10 cups (5 cans worth) of pumpkin puree, and it’s all natural- no cans and no chemicals!
This post is part of my 31 Days of Pumpkins series – check out all of the great pumpkin ideas and recipes for fall!