If you’ve never learned how to make pumpkin puree, you’re in for a real treat! It’s far superior to canned pumpkin puree from the grocery store (no offense to Libby’s!). There’s just something special about growing a pumpkin in your garden, letting it cure properly, then transforming it into a sweet and silky ingredient for homemade pumpkin pie or other yummy treats!
Before we begin, it’s important to point out that we’re discussing sugar or pie pumpkins for this recipe.
You do not want to use the big jack o lantern pumpkins that you’d find at the grocery store or pumpkin patch meant for carving to make your homemade pumpkin puree.
True homemade pumpkin puree is meant to be slightly sweet, and you just won’t get that flavor from a regular fresh pumpkin.
Properly Cured Pumpkins
If you’ve ever tried to make homemade pumpkin puree and thought to yourself, “This just doesn’t taste good!”, it’s probably because your pumpkin wasn’t fully cured.
As pumpkins cure, more sugar content builds up within the flesh of the pumpkin, resulting in a sweeter end product. Making homemade pumpkin puree with a pumpkin that hasn’t fully cured will give you an almost bitter tasting puree.
It’s really worth it to be sure the pumpkins have cured long enough! If you’re not sure what a properly cured pumpkin should look like, watch the video below.
Why Make This Recipe
You may be asking yourself, “Why go to all the trouble of making my own pumpkin puree when it’s so cheap at the grocery store?” That’s a valid question, but let me try and convince you with the following reasons:
- Homemade pumpkin puree is SO MUCH MORE delicious!
- If you grow your own pumpkins, the cost is literally pennies per jar.
- You’ll know every ingredient in your delicious homemade pumpkin pie (or pumpkin bread, or pumpkin breakfast casserole, or…) without the questionable store-bought can of pumpkin puree.
- You have the satisfaction of knowing you’re growing and providing your family with homegrown and healthy food.
Is Your Pumpkin Ripe?
As mentioned above, it’s really important you’re working with a ripe pumpkin, otherwise your pumpkin puree will be bitter and unappetizing, no matter how much sugar you add to your recipe.
If you buy a pumpkin at the grocery store, early in the season, it’s likely your pumpkin hasn’t fully cured. You want a pumpkin that has a very hard exterior, one that’s almost hard to dent with your fingernail.
Pumpkins cure best once they’ve been picked from the garden, brought inside into a cool, dry area, and left alone for a minimum of a few weeks.
A few other tips to look for:
- Uniform color
- Solid skin (hard to puncture with a knife or your fingernail)
- Hard stem – you likely won’t be able to break it off with your hand, and it shouldn’t be bendy at all.
- Finally, give it a good old “thump” and listen for that hollow sound.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
There are a few simple steps for making homemade pumpkin puree.
- Cure pumpkin
- Remove stem
- Cut pumpkin (or not!)
- Roast pumpkin
- Remove skin
- Remove seeds and stringy center
A cured pie pumpkin will have a very hard stem that’s difficult to remove. What we like to do is hold the pumpkin firmly in both hands and give it a good “whack” on the edge of the counter.
Cut the Pumpkin
If you’ve got a truly cured and ripe pumpkin, it will be difficult to cut! There are a couple of methods you can use here.
First, if you don’t mind digging out the seeds once the pumpkin has already been roasted, you can simply pierce the pumpkin with a knife and roast it whole. This is what we do most often because it’s just easier!
Alternatively, you can cut the whole pumpkin in half and dig out the seeds before roasting.
Roast the Pumpkin
Once you’re ready to roast, place the whole pumpkin (or the halves, cut-side-down) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat and bake at 350 degrees F.
For smaller pumpkins, bake for 20 to 30 minutes. For larger pumpkins, you’ll want to test your pumpkin after 25 minutes, but it could take anywhere from 30-60 minutes depending on size and whether you cut it or are roasting whole.
How to Know When the Pumpkin is Cooked
You’ll know the pumpkin is done roasting when a fork or knife pierces through the skin easily all the way to the center of the pumpkin.
Peel the Pumpkin
Again, you have two options here. You can take a vegetable peeler and peel the pumpkin prior to roasting.
Or, if you roast the pumpkin whole, the skin will peel off with ease once the pumpkin has cooled slightly.
This is our preferred method as it’s easy for kiddos to jump in and help! Plus we find they love digging out the seeds to save for roasting.
If you didn’t remove them prior to baking, now is when you’ll want to scoop out the seeds and separate them from the pumpkin flesh. But don’t throw them away!
Roasted and seasoned pumpkin seeds make a delicious snack! Simply rinse the seeds well, spray them with a little avocado oil, season them with salt or your favorite spice blend and roast at 300 degrees F until crispy and dry!
If there is any remaining skin, go ahead an scoop out the flesh and now you have your cooked pumpkin puree!
You can either use it as is in recipes, or for a smoother consistency, blend it in a blender, mix it on medium-high speed in a stand mixer, give it a few pulses in a food processor, or blend it with a stick blender until desired consistency is reached.
A small to medium sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin will yield about 2 cupfuls of pumpkin puree.
How to Store Pumpkin Puree
If you’ll use the pumpkin within a few days, you can store it in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator.
If you’re not going to use the pumpkin for a while you can freeze it in a zip-top bag. We recommend pressing it flat for quick defrosting later on.
To defrost frozen pumpkin puree, simply place the frozen baggie in a dish with cold water for about 10 minutes.
- 1 pie pumpkin
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Take your properly cured pie pumpkin and remove the stem by carefully banging it on the edge of the counter.
- Pierce the pumpkin with a sharp knife.
- Place pumpkin on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat mat, or lightly sprayed with oil.
- Cook the pumpkin for 20 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the pumpkin with a fork.
- Remove pumpkin and allow to cool slightly.
- Peel the skin away from the pumpkin.
- Remove the seeds and other stringy bits from the center of the pumpkin.
- Use puree as is or blend until a smooth consistency is reached (in a blender, a stand mixer or with a stick blender).
- Store in the refrigerator, freeze for later, or use in your favorite recipe.
- Be sure you’re starting with a pie pumpkin. Using a pumpkin that is not specifically a pie pumpkin will not yield good results.
- Be sure your pumpkin is properly cured. An underripe pumpkin will not taste as sweet and can taste bitter or unappetizing.
- Adjust the roasting time up or down depending on the size of your pumpkin. The pumpkin shown in this recipe is considered a small to medium size pie pumpkin.
- Keep your pumpkin seeds to roast them for a healthy snack! (See note above on roasting instructions.)
- If you won’t be using the puree in a few days, seal it in a zip-top freezer back and press contents flat before freezing.
- To defrost puree, lay the frozen bag in a shallow dish of cool water.