It's pumpkin season! And that means we're ready to start baking pumpkin bars, breads, rolls, pies, and everything in between! Yes, you can buy pumpkin purée at the grocery store (in the US!), but if you really want to maximize the flavor, make your own pumpkin purée! It's easy and can be made in batches, so you'll have everything you need for the season's baking.
As always, I do include a few affiliate links in this post for products I truly use and love. This just means that if you make a purchase after clicking one of those links, I'll earn a little money (at no cost to you) to keep the kitchen up and running, which I promise to use to create more fun content like this! One of those affiliates is with Amazon, which requires a very clear disclosure: as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you have any questions about affiliates, please reach out!
What You Need to Get Started
Pick your pie pumpkins! Firstly, note: pie pumpkins. This will not taste the same if you use a different type of pumpkin (think of it like corn -- not all corn is meant for human consumption... not all pumpkins are either!) Make sure they're ripe and you're ready to go.
You'll also need a food processor, or a strong blender to make the purée. I have a Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor that I've been using for a few years, and it can tackle anything!
I also recommend draining some of the water out of the purée -- the water content of a pumpkin is high, and you'll notice that when puréed, it has much more liquid than canned pumpkin that you buy at the store. If you strain some of the water out, you can maximize the pumpkin flavor and reduce some of the water content. It will also be more similar to the consistency of canned pumpkin. You can strain the water out in a few ways:
- Use cheesecloth: I like to use cheesecloth (you can buy a bolt of cheesecloth, but they also make individual squares) and pile the purée to the center, lift it up so the purée is in a ball and squeeze the water out. The weave is small enough to not allow any of the pumpkin itself to come out, but you can wring out quite a bit of water! Also, cheesecloth is washable, so you can wash and use it again for something else!
- Use paper towels: If you don't want to go the cheesecloth route, you can do the same process with paper towels. They'll be more likely to rip, so be careful -- you likely want to use at least 2 layers of paper towels before you start wringing.
- Use a mesh strainer: You can also add the purée to a mesh strainer (like this OXO mesh strainer) and use a spoon to push the water out. The pumpkin should remain in the belly of the strainer. Be careful with this one -- depending on the size of your mesh, you might lose some of your pumpkin as well!
Pumpkin Purée FAQ
How should you remove the seeds from the pumpkin?
You can use a spoon, but I've found using an ice cream scoop works best!
What should you do with the pumpkin seeds?
You don't need to keep them if you don't want to, but if you do, you can make spiced pumpkin seeds! Here are a few great recipes you can try:
- Simply Recipes, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (plain)
- Healthy Recipes, Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (for a spicy kick)
- Joy Food Sunshine, Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds (a sweet twist)
How long should you cook the pumpkin?
Cook the pumpkin for 45 minutes, or until fork-tender. It should be as tender as when you're cooking spaghetti squash or something similar for eating. You will purée in a food processor after this step, so they should be quite soft!
Do you have to strain the pumpkin?
No, you don't! You can use it as is after you purée, but note that your pumpkin may have a higher water content than a recipe using canned pumpkin would. You may need to adjust a few ingredients to ensure your recipe doesn't end up too wet.
How should I strain the pumpkin?
Place the pureed pumpkin in the center of a cheesecloth (this will also work with paper towels, or a fine mesh strainer). Fold the cheesecloth around the pumpkin to make a ball and squeeze to drain the water out. Wring until you feel you've gotten most of the water, and then the pumpkin is ready to use.
How should I store pumpkin purée?
Store the pumpkin purée in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. For freezer storage, I like to put 1 cup purée into a freezer bag, and then store as "bricks." It's easy for storage and then you know how much is in each bag (recipes often call for 1 cup pumpkin purée).
I've added a very "loose" recipe below for you to try. I hope you enjoy it! Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Easy Pumpkin Purée
- 2 small pie pumpkins
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Carefully cut your pumpkins in half and use a spoon (or ice cream scoop!) to remove the seeds and pulp.
- Place the pumpkins face down on the baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool for at least 30 minutes, or until comfortable to touch.
- Cut the pumpkin into chunks and remove the peel. Add pumpkin to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
- Place the puréed pumpkin in a cheesecloth (you can also use paper towels), create a ball, and squeeze to remove excess water.
- Place the pureed pumpkin in an air-tight container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.