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Homemade pumpkin purée is easy to make. The better your pumpkin (or squash), the better your pie (or pumpkin bread, etc.) will be. Smaller pie pumpkins generally have sweeter flesh, and many varieties of winter squash make excellent sweet purées.
According to Amy Goldman, author of The Compleat Squash, the Cucurbita pepo variety known as ‘Winter Luxury Pie’ makes a smooth and velvety pumpkin custard. “When cut into a wedge on a plate, it holds its shape, color and flavor long after the competition has keeled over and died,” she says.
1 whole pie pumpkin
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a sharp knife, hack the pumpkin into several large pieces. Don’t bother removing the seeds, because baking the pumpkin will make them easier to remove later. Place the pieces on a jellyroll pan cut-side down. Bake for 30 minutes to an hour. You’ll know the pumpkin is ready when its flesh pierces easily and has begun to slouch.
Allow the pumpkin to cool enough to be able to work with it, and use a large metal spoon to remove the seeds (set them aside for compost or roasting). Scrape the remaining flesh away from the rind and discard or compost the rind. Purée the flesh in a blender or food processor, or with a food mill, adding water if necessary to help it blend.
A 2 1/2-pound pumpkin yields about 2 cups of purée, or enough for one standard 9-inch pie.
Preserving Pumpkin Purée
You can freeze pumpkin purée, but don’t can it! According to the USDA, pumpkin purée’s thickness and acidity, among other factors, prevent it from being safely canned at home, not even in a pressure canner.
Read more: However you cook them, savory pumpkins and squash offer loads of color, flavor and nutrition. Read Best Pumpkin Varieties for Cooking to learn more about heirloom varieties and their excellent cooking qualities. Also, check out this great Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe, and read Perfect Pie Crust for the best crust recipes, tips and baking instructions.
Photo By Tim Nauman Photography