How to turn  your fall or Halloween pumpkins into puree to be used in your favorite pumpkin recipes.

If you are like me you can have 5 or 6 pumpkins sitting on your porch the day after Halloween and  have no idea what to do with them now that Halloween is over.    I always felt guilty about throwing perfectly good pumpkins away, not only because I knew I was throwing away perfectly good food, but also because pumpkins here in Alaska are so expensive.  But, I also had no idea how to turn a pumpkin into pumpkin that could be used in a recipe, and so every year  they would sit outside until they were frozen solid and then in the trash can they would go.   One year, my son insisted that I  make him his own pumpkin pie out of his Halloween jack-o-lantern.  I did some experimenting and found out that it was much easier than I had originally thought, and the pie was spectacular.  My son was thrilled that he had his own pie and I was thrilled that I wasn’t throwing away perfectly good pumpkin any more.

The answer to the Halloween pumpkin problem is to puree your pumpkin.  With pumpkin puree you can use your pumpkin in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.  It’s super easy to do and will rid you of your pumpkin guilt.  Also, pumpkins are super cheep after Halloween and it can be a great time to stock your freezer with pumpkin for all your favorite holiday pumpkin recipes.

First, I wash the outside of my pumpkin well.  I use a little soap and water.  Make sure to get all of the soap off.  If you have already carved your pumpkin you should still wash the outside.  Just make sure not to get any soap on the inside and  try to keep the inside from getting very wet.

Next, cut it in half and scrape out the seeds, if you haven’t done that already.  Don’t throw out your seeds.  Set them aside to bake later.

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This is what ours looked like all cleaned out.  If you have a jack-o-lantern with a burn mark or wax inside, just cut out that part.

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Next, cut it into smaller pieces that you can fit  into a casserole dish or two.  Pumpkin Puree003

Arrange the pieces in your casserole dish.  I had to use two dishes, one for each half.  You don’t need to worry about making the lid fit on,  just cover each dish with aluminum foil.Pumpkin Puree004

Now, bake the pumpkin at 350* until it is all nice and tender down to the shell.  I baked mine for a total of 2 hours and 10 minutes.  Set your timer for 1 hour and 30 minutes  and check it every 15-20 minutes until it’s done.   You should be able to stick a fork into the pumpkin next to the shell and have it pull away from the shell easily. Pumpkin Puree005

Let it cool until you can safely hold a piece in your hand without burning yourself.  Now, scrape the pumpkin away from the pumpkin shell and into a big bowl.  If there is water left in your  baking pan, don’t throw it away.  You may need it in the next step.  Pumpkin Puree006

Next, puree your pumpkin in your blender or food processor.  I could only do about half of the pumpkin at a time in my blender.  If it isn’t wet enough to puree well, add the water left over from your baking dish.   I also had to mix it for a few seconds and then scrape the sides of the blender once, before I could continue pureeing it.  Pumpkin Puree007

Lastly,  I put the puree into zip lock bags, to freeze and store for later.  Two heaping cups of puree is comparable to a small 14 oz. can of pumpkin.  Most recipes call for 2 cups of pumpkin or a small can.  You may notice that your puree is a much lighter color than canned pumpkin is.  That’s fine.  I have never had mine as dark as what I get from a can.

I had a total of 13 cups of puree.  I divided the extra cup I had between the bags.  A little extra in your recipes won’t hurt.  Pumpkin Puree008

When you are ready to make your favorite pumpkin recipe, just take a bag out of the freezer to thaw about an hour before you are ready to use it. Don’t drain off any water that may have separated from the puree when thawing. Use the whole bag.

Stop back tomorrow and I will show you how to roast your pumpkin seeds.  They are one of my favorite snacks.  (Link Here)


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