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A number of years ago I learned how to make pumpkin puree and I haven’t bought a can of pureed pumpkin since! The taste of homemade pumpkin puree is far superior than store bought and it really isn’t that hard to make. Plus I’ve learned that a lot of winter squash varieties can be turned into a puree and used in the same recipes as a pumpkin puree. We grow a variety of pumpkins and winter squash each year and our friend with an organic farm usually gives us a box of pumpkin and squash seconds from her farm every fall. We keep them in cool storage in our mudroom and use them in homemade meals all winter long. Another handy trick I learned once I figured out how to make pumpkin puree is how to preserve the extra for adding to future homemade meals and baked goods!
How to make pumpkin puree
There are two methods I’ve tried for making a pumpkin puree. One method is to roast it in the oven, the second method is steaming it. I’ve processed and pureed more pumpkins and winter squash than I can count the last few years and I have to say that steaming is my preferred method. Why? First off, it is much faster than roasting in the oven. Secondly, the pumpkin seems to dry out a bit in the oven even when I put some water in the baking dish while it is roasting. The last couple years, I actually steam all our pumpkin and winter squash in a big steamer pot sat on the top of our wood stove! (If you missed our post on how to cook and bake on a wood stove, you can find it here)
Directions for a pumpkin or winter squash:
1. Wash and scrub the outside of the pumpkin to remove any dirt or debris.
2. Sit the pumpkin on a cutting board and using a large knife, slice it in half. Scoop out the seeds and set them aside to roast for a yummy, healthy snack!
3. Slice the pumpkin into pieces about 1″-2″ wide. Place the slices in the top pan of a steamer pot. They can be all piled on top of each other and don’t need to be laid out perfectly.
4. Pour a couple inches of water in the bottom pan of the steamer pot (we have this one and love it!) and put a lid on top. Bring the water to a boil and steam the pumpkin until it is soft. This usually takes about 30-40 minutes for a medium to large size pumpkin.
5. When the pumpkin is steamed soft, remove it from the heat and let it cool off. Once cooled, slice off the rind. (We feed the rinds to our chickens or put them in our worm composting bin)
6. Cut the rind-less pumpkin into chunks about 1″-2″ long. Place the pumpkin chunks in the food processor. Process until the pumpkin is a smooth puree with no lumps left in it. Pumpkins and winter squash I turn into puree within a couple months of harvest make a very moist puree. It seems that once they sit in cool storage more than six months after harvest they start to lose some moisture and I have to add in a little water to the food processor when pureeing.
7. Once the puree is finished, it is ready to use in your favorite recipe!
How to preserve homemade pumpkin & winter squash puree
If you want to preserve some of the puree, I think the quickest and easiest method is to freeze it. My favorite recipes for pumpkin puree use 2 cups or 2.5 cups of pumpkin puree so that’s how I freeze it. I measure out either 2 cups or 2.5 cups of puree, pour it into a reusable plastic sour cream or yogurt container and leave about an inch head space in the container for expansion.
Then I put on the lid and label it with what it is, the date and the exact quantity of pumpkin puree. Then the containers go into the freezer until I need them. When you want to use your frozen pumpkin or winter squash puree, remove the frozen puree from the freezer at least four hours before you plan to use it so it can thaw.
If you want to try canning pumpkin puree, check out this canning pumpkin post from LivinLovinFarmin.
How do you make homemade pumpkin or winter squash puree? What are your favorite recipes to use it in?