Pumpkin-Palooza – How to prepare for Thanksgiving and make Pumpkin Purée

10 November 2011 § 10 Comments

The three things I learned at my Thanksgiving dinner with the Voltaggio Brothers were these: Preparation! Preparation! and Preparation! Simply put, it is time to get your Thanksgiving on! This Pumpkin-Palooza post is all about getting prepared and making pumpkin purée. Oh, and the letter P…

Let’s start with that quintessential Thanksgiving staple –  pumpkins. The pumpkin is so versatile: used both as a candle-lit carved ghoul for Halloween and as a fairy stagecoach to take Cinders to the ball. Flavor-wise you can go gentle with cinnamon and nutmeg or really heat things up with red chili, ginger and a robust cheese, such as Parmesan.

I’m going to show you how easy it is to purée your own. I promise it tastes better. The canned version always has a strange metallic smell and an unappetizing browny-orange color. Making your own takes a bit of time but you can purée now, then freeze it in a ziplock bag, and make one of the delicious pumpkin recipes I’m going to share soon.

Here’s a taster of what is to come:

  • Pumpkin and cheddar muffins
  • Pumpkin gratin
  • Pumpkin pots de crème
  • Pumpkin and bacon risotto

So back to the letter P, here’s how I make my pumpkin purée.

First wash the pumpkin.

Then halve it and scrape out all the pulp and seeds. You can roast the seeds to make to some delicious pepitas but will get to that later.

Now cut these halves into 2 or 4 depending on the size of the pumpkin. Take a roasting pan and place the pieces upside down (cut side down) along with 1 cup of water.

Bake them in a preheated 400°F oven for about 30-40 minutes or until tender. You can check for tenderness by piercing a fork to the flesh of the pumpkins. It will be soft and the skin of the pumpkins will turn deep orange.

Remove from oven and wait until they are cool enough to handle.

Now scoop out the flesh of the pumpkins. The flesh will come off very easily if baked completely.

You can now either mash it with a fork, but if you want the consistency of a store-bought canned pumpkin then use a processor to make a smooth purée.

Now pour it into a sieve (or cheesecloth or coffee filter) that is over a deep bowl. Stir with a spoon until all the liquid runs off. You should have a vibrant orange purée. Here’s a picture I took of fresh purée and canned – can you tell which is which?

The fresh purée is on the left. The canned on the right

It will keep in the fridge for a few days, or put into a Ziplock bag, séqueeze out all the air and freeze.

Toasted Pepitas (apologies there no photos as The Ladies™ and I ate them as soon as they came out of the oven)

Separate the seeds from the pulp and wash. Soak into salted water for 1-7 hours. Then dry in some paper towel, coat lightly in olive oil and roast in a preheated oven at 250° for about 30 minutes. When cooking move around the pan every 10 minutes or so, so that they don’t stick.

You can add some cayenne, cumin and salt to spice them up or just a sprinkle of salt.

Here are some recipes on a pumpkin-related theme from This Little Piggy Went to the Farmers’ Market‘s archive: squash souffle (you can substitute pumpkin) or slow-cooked pumpkin soup.

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