Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cooking Techniques: Pumpkin Purée

Thanks to Pinterest, I have been seeing a lot of pumpkin recipes lately. Previously, any pumpkin that I cooked with came from a can. But this year, I decided to try making my own pumpkin purée.

According to Mavis at One Hundred Dollars a Month, cooking pumpkin isn't any harder than cooking any other type of squash.  After reading her post and seeing the piles of pumpkins at the grocery store, I was inspired to try making my own pumpkin puree.  Plus, every time we pass the pumpkins at the grocery store, Kat exclaims, "Punkin!"  And how can I ignore that?

I decided this would be a fun exploration project with Kat, so before I sliced the pumpkin in half, I asked her what she thought was inside.  "Apple."  As good of a guess as any!  While we didn't find any apples inside, she still ooo'd until she touched the "guts" and declared them sticky.

We scooped out the insides, and Kat helped me separate the seeds from the pulp.  She really enjoyed stirring the seeds (although no stirring was really required).  Growing up, I was never a fan of pumpkin seeds, but I saw a recipe for cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds and was hoping to try it out.

I put a bit of olive oil on the cut sides, put pumpkin on a baking sheet cut side down, and baked at 375 for about 35 minutes, when I noticed the skin starting to wrinkle.  When I pulled them out, the pumpkins basically collapsed onto the baking sheet.

  The flesh was incredibly easy to scoop off the skin.  I put it directly into the food processor, and ran the processor until the pumpkin was smooth.  However, the puree didn't look like the stuff that comes from the can.  The color was closer to yellow than orange, and it was very watery.

I was concerned about making pie with such watery puree, so I looked for ways to thicken it up.  After a failed attempt at reducing by boiling (I don't recommend this; boiling puree is messy!), I lined a colander with a coffee filter, set the colander over a bowl, and poured in the puree.  About half a cup of water drained out!  Success!

I used the puree to make pumpkin pie (NerdDad's favorite), but adjusted my recipe to include less milk since the filling already looked pretty liquidy.  It turned out perfectly!  In fact, the pie was half gone before I got a chance to take a picture.

The process to make my own puree was so easy that I decided to buy another pumpkin yesterday. Now I just need to decide what to do with more puree.  Do you have any non-pie pumpkin recipes?

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