Why I Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree from Scratch for Pumpkin Pies and More.
Several years ago I began getting interested in cooking pies around the holidays. Since I really prefer to cook from scratch whenever possible, I thought the best place to look for recipes was in a collection of cookbooks that had been handed down from my grandmother. I come from a long line of Yankees and this was reflected in the types of cookbooks I reviewed - they all featured very basic recipes from the New England area.
The beauty of recipes from that region is their simplicity - both in terms of the number of ingredients, and also in the amount of steps needed to cook something. I found a pumpkin pie recipe that sounded good except for one thing. It said to use fresh pumpkin, but it didn't tell how to prepare the pumpkin. Several years later, and after many different methods were explored, I developed a way to cook the pumpkin and then process it into a puree with a consistency that makes for a fabulous pie. Baking the pumpkin lends to the process - it keeps the flavor from being parched out as it does when you boil the pumpkin. Plus, baking the pumpkin allows the sugars to slightly caramelize - another bonus in any dessert.
In this short video, you can see how to make both the pumpkin puree and the pumpkin pie. This will give you the instructions with many pictures showing the process of making the puree plus a great pumpkin pie recipe - one that I've developed over time as well. If you'd like to see the printed how-to guides, click here for the pumpkin puree process, and this link shows how to make my Best Ever New England Deep-Dish Pumpkin Pie.
The best part about this pumpkin puree is that you can store it in the freezer for quite a long time. I put mine into small Ball or Mason jars (one-quart or smaller) and use a vacuum sealer machine to close them off. Done this way, the puree can keep for many, many months - allowing you to make fresh pumpkin goods for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even July 4th if that's what you like!
Other really good things to make from the pumpkin puree include muffins, cookies, breads, cakes, pumpkin rolls, and even soup.
Though it may initially seem like a lot of effort to bake and process the pumpkins, it really isn't. Most of the time is taken up by the baking process (about 45 minutes) and then the cooling process (another 30 to 45 minutes). Take that as an opportunity for a little "me" time!
You'll find that this method of processing pumpkin is well worth the effort and that you will end up creating pumpkin-based dishes that your family and friends will love.
Originally published on Yahoo.com, October 7, 2009