Prepare Your Own Pumpkin for Pie

Skip the can this year and make your own pumpkin puree. You’ll have to carve out some time for it, but you can bake the freshest of the fresh pumpkin pie. Look at you, you awesome pie baker.

Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

 

It’s easy to forget that fresh pumpkins are good for something other than jack-o’-lanterns and festive mantel decorations. But don’t forget that a pumpkin is first and foremost food, and a damn good one at that. You can, and should, eat the heck out of pumpkin! Especially if you’re putting that pumpkin into the best pie of the season.

Well. Maybe. I did the taste test between canned and fresh pumpkin puree in a pie. Read about it over here. Whether you believe me or not though, if you make your own pumpkin puree you totally get all kinds of bragging rights.

Draining the excess liquid from the roasted pumpkin is the key to success here. The goal is to get it as thick (or thicker than) the stuff from the store.

I’ve outlined how to make your own pumpkin puree below so you can kick the can to the curb. You’ll need a food processor and a little (okay, a lot) of patience, but in a few hours you’ll be ready to make your crazy fresh pumpkin pie. Mmm, tastes like triumph.

Here we go!

Step#1
Pick out your pumpkin. You want one that’s labeled “sugar”or “pie” pumpkin. They’re smaller than their carving cousins (see the picture up above), and they have more flesh inside. Choose a pumpkin that feels heavy for its size.

Step#2
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Slice the pumpkin in half lengthwise (that’s stem to base). I kept my stem on, but if it’s easier for you, you can chop the very top of the pumpkin off first.

Cut the Pumpkin

 

Step#3
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy “guts” from the inside of the pumpkin and set them aside. You can use those later for roasting pumpkin seeds, so don’t throw them out!

Seed the Pumpkin

Step#4
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, a silicone baking mat or foil. Place your pumpkin halves cut side down on the baking sheet. Pop the pan into the oven for about 45 minutes. You should be able to pierce through the pumpkin easily with a fork.

Put Pumpkin on Pan

Step#5

Let the pumpkin cool for about 15 minutes so you don’t burn your hands, then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving the skin behind. Place the flesh into the bowl of a food processor (a good blender would work, too).

Put Pumpkin in Food Processor

Step#6

Put your food processor to work. Start by pulsing the pumpkin in the food processor. You may need to scrape down the sides every now and then. Resist the urge to add water; once the pumpkin flesh starts to break down, it will release liquid and be easier to process. Keep pulsing until it is relatively smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and let the food processor run for about a minute more to really smooth things out.

Puree Pumpkin

Step#7

Rest a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Line the fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth. Add the pumpkin puree to the lined fine mesh strainer and let it drain for 1-2 hours, until the pumpkin is thick and holds its shape when pressed together in the cheesecloth. It’ll look like this:

Strain Pumpkin

Step#8
Use your pumpkin puree any way you would use canned pumpkin puree. Store what you don’t use immediately in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Finished Pumpkin Puree

Here are some handy-dandy printable instructions for you:

Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sugar or pie pumpkin

Directions:

  1. Pick out your pumpkin. You want one that's labeled "sugar"or "pie" pumpkin. They're smaller than their carving cousins (see the picture up above), and they have more flesh inside. Choose a pumpkin that feels heavy for its size.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Slice the pumpkin in half lengthwise (that's stem to base). I kept my stem on, but if it's easier for you, you can chop the very top of the pumpkin off first.
  3. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy "guts" from the inside of the pumpkin and set them aside. You can use those later for roasting pumpkin seeds, so don't throw them out!
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, a silicone baking mat or foil. Place your pumpkin halves cut side down on the baking sheet. Pop the pan into the oven for about 45 minutes. You should be able to pierce through the pumpkin easily with a fork.
  5. Let the pumpkin cool for about 15 minutes so you don't burn your hands, then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving the skin behind. Place the flesh into the bowl of a food processor (a good blender would work, too).
  6. Put your food processor to work. Start by pulsing the pumpkin in the food processor. You may need to scrape down the sides every now and then. Resist the urge to add water; once the pumpkin flesh starts to break down, it will release liquid and be easier to process. Keep pulsing until it is relatively smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and let the food processor run for about a minute more to really smooth things out.
  7. Rest a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Line the fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth. Add the pumpkin puree to the lined fine mesh strainer and let it drain for 1-2 hours, until the pumpkin is thick and holds its shape when pressed together in the cheesecloth. It'll look like this:
  8. Use your pumpkin puree any way you would use canned pumpkin puree. Store what you don't use immediately in a covered container in the refrigerator.
This article originally appeared in November 2015 and was revised and republished in November 2016.

Maria Siriano

Somewhere among the towers of batter-smeared mixing bowls, you'll find a flour-covered Maria making unique seasonal desserts for her blog, Sift and Whisk. Although she never quite got the hang of the clean-as-you-go technique, she has still managed to elevate her baking skills far beyond “add oil, water, and eggs.” She makes a killer pie, if she does say so herself.