Make your own pumpkin puree

Pumpkins are plentiful right now. At the roadside stand I stopped at, the farmer told me she had 30 varieties of pumpkin! I had no idea there were so many varieties.
Every year I buy several pie pumpkins, roast them then mash and freeze them. I have fresh frozen pumpkin all year long for making muffins, loaves, cookies, pies and cakes.

I've been told I'm crazy for making my own pureed pumpkin when it's readily available in cans. True enough, but making your own pumpkin puree is fairly simple. In fact, the hardest part about making it is cutting the pumpkin in half! I get more pumpkin for my dollar when I buy a pumpkin and roast it and I'm buying local produce. Plus, I get the pumpkin seeds for roasting. We snack on the roasted seeds and I also add them to granola, salads, cookies and loaves.

You can roast and freeze any variety of pumpkin but I prefer the pie pumpkin because it isn't as watery as the larger pumpkins and it's easier to work with.

The first thing to do is wash your pumpkin. Next, cut it in half and remove the seeds. Save the seeds, of course, for roasting.

Cut the seeded pumpkin into wedges and place the wedges skin side up on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Roast the wedges at 400 F for about 20-30 min (until it's easy to pierce all the way through with a fork).

Let cool then scoop the flesh into a large bowl.

For a really smooth puree, I blend the pumpkin with an immersion blender. You could also use a regular blender or food processor. You could even just mash it with a potato masher.

Now it's ready to be put into containers for the freezer. I freeze it in 1 cup portions because most recipes I use it with call for this amount.

Pumpkin is not a really strong flavour so it can be added to different dishes and it isn't overpowering. In addition to the usual muffins, loaves and cakes, I add pumpkin to pancakes, chili, soup, pasta sauce and mac and cheese. I've even served roasted pumpkin wedges as a vegetable.

We have a few recipes on our blog for pumpkin. Just type 'pumpkin' in the search bar.

If you've got some interesting ways to use pumpkin puree, tell us about it.

Michele Hurd, RD