Making homemade pumpkin puree is insanely simple and the flavor is far superior to anything you will find in a can. The most important aspect is choosing the right pumpkin.
Grocery stores often carry small “pie” or “sugar” pumpkins that work well, as they have a higher sugar content. I tend to favor Rouge vif D’Etampes, a French heirloom, which is sweet and a good keeper. It’s as pretty as it is delicious.
Step 1: Gut it. Grab a sharp knife and slice the pumpkin in half. Scoop all the webby and seedy “guts” out of the pumpkin. You can compost the inners or feed them to your backyard flock.
Step 2: Roast it. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on a foil-lined basking sheet. Roast it in the oven at about 375 for an hour. You will know it’s done when you can piece the side easily with a fork.
Step 3: Puree it. Let the pumpkin cool a bit, then scoop the walls of the pumpkin into a big bowl. You will leave behind the hard outer skin, which should separate pretty easily now from the “meat” of the pumpkin. Use a food processor, blender or even a pastry knife to mash up the softened pumpkin.
Step 4: Use or store it. Use it right away for soup, sweet breads, muffins, pies, etc. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Pumpkin puree also freezes really well. I pack mine into small freezer bags, about two cups of puree per bag. That seems to be a common size called for in recipes, making it easy to just thaw out what you need a little at a time.
This big Rouge vif D’Etampes was on our front porch as a fall decoration for about a month. It was about 18″ in diameter. Once roasted, it made about 16 cups of puree that I will use this winter. Gotta love a decoration you can eat!