During my “super mom” days when it was Halloween season, I would make all of my kid’s costumes, prepare special Halloween themed treats like popcorn balls, pumpkin shaped sugar cookies, and witches’ hat cookies for class parties, and of course, assist in the carving of professionally designed jack-o-lanterns. When preparing the pumpkins for carving, on numerous occasions, I would attempt to save the pumpkin meat to make my own pumpkin puree. However, I was never successful. There never seemed to be enough innards and besides, let’s face it, it was super gross to reach in and pull out all of that stringy stuff to get to the heart of the pumpkin. Consequently, I was never successful in making my own pumpkin puree. So, when I wanted to make a pumpkin pie or pumpkin bars or anything else pumpkiny, I would have to resort to the old stand by: Libby’s canned pumpkin.
While visiting my daughter and grandson in October, a friend of my daughter’s presented us with small loaves of pumpkin gingerbread made from her own, fresh pumpkin puree. And man, were they ever moist and yummy. The fresh pumpkin puree definitely made a difference.
Suddenly, my competitor self surfaced: if this twenty-something young mom could make pumpkin puree, so could this fifty-something still a mom/now a grandmother could too!!! I asked for the instructions on how to successfully harvest the pumpkin goo from this young and clever whipper-snapper and embarked on my own pumpkin journey.
First off, I had no idea that you actually need a special kind of pumpkin to achieve this lofty goal. No wonder my run of the mill jack-o-lanterns never worked. I learned that you have to use a type of pumpkin that is actually made for this kind of activity. They are called cooking (how original) or sugar pie or baby bear or cheese pumpkins and you buy them in the produce section of your grocery store. I went for the organic version because I figured if I was going to go through the bother, I wanted it to be the healthiest kind of bother. Actually, it really was not a bother at all. Simply split your special pumpkin in half, slicing off the stem, and put the halves upside down in a baking dish. Add 1/2″ water to the dish and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until a knife easily pierces the pumpkin. Add water if necessary to keep the 1/2′ water level.
Remove from dish and let cool. Then, scoop out the seeds and mushy strings (that part is still a tad gross) and discard. Scoop out all the remaining flesh and wah lah–the yummiest, freshest, pumpkin puree ever. Now how easy is that? It only took me until I was 50 to successfully achieve this wonderful feat.
One small pumpkin makes enough puree for a recipe calling for one 15 oz. can of pumpkin. Since I did two pumpkins, I used half the puree to make my own pumpkin gingerbread and I froze the other half to make another yummy pumpkin recipe in the near future.
Thank you Natalie for inspiring me to finally achieve pumpkin perfection. I love learning new kitchen skills.