Monday, September 13, 2010

How to Handle a "Pie" Pumpkin

Does anyone remember "The Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2009?" Last year around this time, it was nearly impossible to find a can of Libby's pumpkin because the fine farmers who supply Libby's with pumpkins had their crops destroyed.

Fall had officially set in here in Wyoming and I seriously had a hankering to make a pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, butterscotch pumpkin cake, etc. 

But there was no canned pumpkin to be found! Tragedy!

 But then, miracles of miracles, I was "visiting" The Wal Marts and noticed a box filled with pie pumpkins. Out of sheer desperation, I grabbed one and headed home determined to make it work.

And it worked beautifully; I was so happy! Turns out, it's really super easy to make your own pumpkin puree. If you've ever roasted a butternut squash, you'll be a pumpkin puree-making expert!

First, find a cute little pie pumpkin. Not a small regular pumpkin, though. Pie pumpkins are a different variety.

I got mine at the farmer's market here. Btw, can I just give a shout out to the awesome people who work at Miller Farms in Plateville, CO? They come up each weekend to our town's farmer's market and sell their produce at fabulous prices. I bought a butternut squash, pie pumpkin and acorn squash from them for just $1 each!

Anyhow, attack the top of your pumpkin by slicing down into it all around the top.

Then just pull the top off.

Using a sturdy knife, slice the pumpkin in half.

Like so. Using your finger, pull out all the delicious seeds. They grow in little "pockets" so it's super easy to just slide them right out.

Using the blade of your knife, scrape out all stringy insides.

Stringy insides? My technical terms probably make Alton Brown jealous.

Or not.

Anyhow, you can also cut out the bottom portion of the stem. Repeat with the other half.

Rub vegetable oil all over each pumpkin half. Front and back.

Place in a baking dish.

Bake in an oven at 375 for about 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is super tender. When you test it with a fork, the fork shouldn't meet any resistance at all but should feel like it's sliding into softened butter.

Then scoop out the pumpkin flesh.

Or you can peel it off. Whatever makes you happy, my friend.

Then just place your pumpkin flesh in a food processor and about 2 tbsp. of water to start with (just enough to help it along in the food processor). You can add more water if your pumpkin seems dry. Puree until smooth and creamy.

Ta-da! Pumpkin puree is ready!

I know, all the photos made it look like a long process but it's really not. The prep time took me about 10 minutes.

You can also roast up the pumpkin seeds. My husband and I snacked on these while watching a movie...healthy and yummy alternative to popcorn. Here's a loose recipe for that:

 Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds from one pie pumpkin
1 tbsp. butter, melted
Ground nutmeg
Ground cinnamon
Creole seasoning
Kosher salt

Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking dish or cookie sheet. Pour melted butter over the top. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Sprinkle (normally) with cinnamon and creole seasoning.

Roast in the oven at 375 until lightly golden brown. Remove and sprinkle with kosher salt. Allow to cool slightly before serving.


  1. I love making my own pumpkin puree! And now I have a hankering for pumpkin seeds (though I prefer to soak mine in salt water so my body gets a sodium jolt when I eat them ...).

    P.S. I'm blogging about your competition today!

  2. Sounds easy peasy! Have you ever made chocolate chip pumpkin cheesecake? Its from hersheyskitchens, you should check that out if you guys like cheesecake. Also Nestles (verybestbaking) has a polka dot cupcakes that are really tasty too. I have been thinking about pumpkin lately too, maybe some day my family and I will go up and check out the Miller Farms. You guys have a great rest of your day!

  3. Hey Sarah, while I'm roasting 1 pumpkin, I usually do 2 or 3. The pumpkin puree freezes great and then you have it on hand when that "hankerin'" comes a'callin'!

  4. Thanks! I just bought a "pie" pumpkin in the store for my kids to play with! (pic on my blog) ;) I thought when I bought it that it would be great to make it myself but thought...oh, buying a can of pumpkin is probably so much easier! Well now I know how and it does look super easy! THanks!

  5. @ Reagan - Thanks! That's so nice of you.

    @ Sunnie - Now I have to go find another pumpkin. :) Seriously though, those sound AMAZING.

    @ LeGwen - I've been kicking myself for not doing that. Next week at the farmer's market I'm stocking up on pie pumpkins.

    @ Shelly - Your kiddos are so cute!

  6. Sigh.
    This post is making me wish that I liked pumpkin.

  7. OK, Sarah I'm going to try this. Farmer's market this weekend and then I'll make my own puree. I remember my mom doing this when I was little, but it looked like alot of work. Now that you explained it it looks easy! I think I might go crazy and freeze some.

  8. Did you find it to be more watery than canned pumpkin? I tried this a couple years ago and froze a bunch, then read other recipes online and many say to strain the puree. That made me worried that mine would be too watery in recipes. Since I don't have a real one and strained some through a kitchen towel, I decided it was a lot easier to buy canned pumpkin. And now I have a bunch of frozen (unstrained) puree I don't know what to do with. But, here you don't mention straining it... so maybe I'm good to go with mine the way it is?


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