November 1st is what the calendar says. The pumpkins on the front stoop have had their days of glory. As long as a band of marauding teenagers doesn't make my stoop a stop on their tour of smashing tonight, I will have some pumpkins to use (note to self--remember to remove whole pumpkins from stoop tonight). Halloween is the line of demarcation between Fall and Holiday, at least mentally and planning-wise for me. It's time to start thinking about holiday recipes and menu planning. Many of you will be using pumpkin purée for baked goodies and some savory dishes. As some of you pumpkin pie bakers may remember, a few years ago there was a shortage of canned pumpkin purée-- yikes! Trying to stay calm, I decided it was high time I make my own. Why couldn't I bake a pumpkin and purée it? Is that just weird? I don't hear about it much, but I'm sure it was done for centuries before supermarkets with all of their canned food bounty existed. I accomplished the task with much success and even though there are plenty of cans of pumpkin on sale at the market, I still make my own. It is fresh, it is made from locally grown pumpkins, and well, it just makes me feel better knowing that it is homemade.
I start with small sugar pumpkins, not the big ones (save those for Jack-o-laterns). Wash and scrub them well. Instead of cutting them into pieces before roasting, I leave them whole and deeply pierce the pumpkin in 4 or 5 places to prevent the pumpkin from exploding.
They are baked in a preheated 375º F oven until the flesh is tender, about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes depending on the size of the pumpkins. Allow to cool.
Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and peel off the skin.
Place the flesh in the bowl of a food processor and whiz away,
Until the mixture is smooth and completely puréed.
Strain the purée of excess liquid by placing in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Do not press, just leave it be for a while.
Et Voilá! Homemade Pumpkin Purée. Stay tuned for some recipes:)
Homemade Pumpkin Purée
yields about 4 cups
2 small sugar pumpkins, about 2 pounds each
Preheat the oven to 375º F. Wash and scrub the pumpkins. Using a sharp knife, deeply pierce the top of the pumpkins 4 to 5 times to create air vents. Set the squash on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Bake until the flesh is tender and is easily pierced with a knife, about 1 hour (maybe longer if your pumpkins are slightly larger). Allow the cooked pumpkins to cool until easily handled.
Place the pumpkins on a cutting surface and remove the stem; cut in half. Remove the seeds and skin. Place the pumpkin flesh in the bowl of a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Transfer the puréed pumpkin to a fine-mesh sieve place over a bowl and allow the purée to drain for about 1 hour. Store the pumpkin in portion-sized containers (according to recipes needed) in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Joy of Cooking, 1997