I am not a fan of pumpkin pie. I never really used to be a fan of pumpkin anything, in fact (but least of all pie), until about a year ago when I tried a pumpkin chai latte at a coffee shop near where I work. They told me they used homemade puree, which made all the difference over a pumpkin-flavored syrup or whatever Starbucks uses (sorry, Starbucks/Tazo, but your pumpkin drinks just don’t compare).
The idea of making a homemade pumpkin puree has always been daunting to me. But the more I began testing out pumpkin recipes, the more I realized I just don’t want to use that canned stuff. It doesn’t have all that much flavor. Besides anything homemade is automatically better. Right?
After flying to Milwaukee and experiencing a second heavenly pumpkin chai latte also made with homemade puree at a Milwaukee-area coffee shop, I was convinced I needed to start making my own pumpkin puree – at least to try to make my own pumpkin chai lattes, but of course I would never limit myself. I’m sure I can find plenty of pumpkin recipes to use this home-made puree (like Sophie’s Vegan Pumpkin Carob Brownies).
A simple search of the internet popped up easy recipes from the Pioneer Woman and Simply Recipes, both of which I’ve tried. All you need is two small pumpkins (right now they are $1.99 a piece at Trader Joe’s) and perhaps a little water.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Slice off the top of the pumpkins and then cut in half. With a spoon or a scoop, scrape out the seeds and pulp from the center. This will take a substantial amount of elbow grease.
- Place the seeds into a bowl for later use, such as roasting. Repeat with remaining halves.
- Place pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast until pumpkin is tender when poked with a fork, about an hour. You can roast cut side up, but I’ve found that if you roast the halves cut side down it significantly decreases the roasting time because moisture is trapped in each pumpkin half.
- Peel off the skin from the pumpkin pieces using a fork to really get all the pumpkin scraped from the skin. Using a food processor or blender, puree in batches until smooth. If necessary, add a bit of water. (When I roasted cut side up I had to add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to my mixture as my pumpkin was very dry.) You can also mash the puree with a potato masher. If puree is too watery, strain through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to get rid of some of the water.
- Use immediately or store it in the freezer for later use.
- To store in the freezer, use the Pioneer Woman‘s technique: spoon about 1 cupful of pumpkin into plastic storage bags. Seal the bag with just a tiny bit of an opening remaining, then use your hands to flatten out the pumpkin inside the bag and push out the air. If necessary, suck out any remaining air and completely seal the bag. Store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
I found that two pumpkins made about three cups of puree.