Saturday, November 20, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Puree

Making my own pumpkin puree is something that's been on my list, and I finally bought some pie pumpkins this year to try it. First thing I noticed? Pie pumpkins are not cheap, at least not at my grocery stores. They were .79/pound, which made them between $5-$6 each. I was surprised (and there was some having-a-cow), but I was determined to make my own puree so I kept going.

I started with 7 pie pumpkins. To roast my pumpkins I cut them in half (through the stem and blossom-end), scooped out the seeds and stringy stuff (not an easy task), and placed them--cut side down--on a rimmed baking sheet. Some people say to add water to the pan, but I decided I didn't want to add any moisture, since I would already need to press out pumpkin liquid anyway.

Then I roasted them at 400 deg for 40 minutes or so, until the flesh of the pumpkins was fork-tender.

After they were cool enough to handle, I scooped out the cooked flesh and processed it in my food processor until it was very smooth, about 2 minutes. It took me 4 batches to do all 7 pumpkins.

I wanted to press out the extra liquid so the puree would be thick like canned puree; I figured it would work better in recipes that way. I lined a large colander with a flour sack towl, put it over a bowl, and put the puree in the colander.

At first I just let the weight of the puree press out the liquid. When the dripping slowed considerably, I folded the towel up over the puree, put a plate on top of it, and a large glass measuring cup on top of the plate. When the dripping slowed again, I took away the measuring cup and put my giant, 23-pound Hubbard squash on the plate. That got things going again! I pressed out a total of (almost) 10 cups of liquid. Pretty amazing, huh?

When the dripping stopped again, I had a puree that was very thick, much like canned pumpkin.

The whole process took up much of the day, and when I was done I considered my homemade puree. I considered the cost of the pie pumpkins and the time and trouble it took to make; I considered the amount of puree I ended up with, about 12 cups from my 7 pumpkins.

And then I considered the reasons why I make things from scratch:
  1. Making things from scratch saves me money. 1 29-oz can of pumpkin contains 3 1/2 cups puree. I can get a 29-oz can for about $2.50. I bought 7 pie pumpkins, we'll say at an average of $5 each--that's $35 on pumpkins--and got 12 cups puree. That works out to $2.91 per cup. The canned puree works out to less than .75 per cup. This definitely did not save me money.

  2. Things made from scratch taste better, are better quality, or help me rotate my food storage. While my homemade puree smelled really good (though not terribly different than canned), it cooked up the same way as canned puree in some Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun Cake. I'm going to try it in pumpkin pie, too, but I imagine my results will be similar. And making the puree didn't do anything to help me rotate my food storage.

  3. I make things from scratch because I enjoy it. I did not enjoy making this puree. It was quite a let-down, actually. Is it because I made so much at one time? Could be. But I'm not going to make small amounts; it's too much work and I use too much pumpkin puree in my cooking and baking.

All in all, I don't imagine I'll make homemade pumpkin puree again (unless I grow some pie pumpkins in my garden next year, but that's a different deal). I'm glad I did it this time for the experience, but the cost and work involved just isn't worth it.


  1. Thanks for your nice instruction on "how to roastpumpkin". I'm glad I read this. I have two huge pumpkin that I was thinking of roasting. But if it is not going to taste any different from a canned stuff and also involves a lot of work. I will rather skip and get the canned pumpkin to make my pies. I will use the tow pumpkin for decoration.

    Thanks. Good work.

  2. @Anonymous, Thanks for your comment :) It sounds like your pumpkins aren't pie pumpkins, anyway. Pie pumpkins are pretty small. The big pumpkins are more for carving and decoration, and I don't think they work well for cooking. Have a great weekend! :)

  3. I had a discussion about this very thing with my sister last week. She made some puree but didn't press the water out. I like your cost analysis...I think I'll just go buy me some more cans of pumpkin before they disappear for the season.

  4. Good analysis...thanks Tiffiny! Oh, and FYI I did the puree with a carving pumpkin once and used it for a soup. I don't think it would work for baking; but a for a soup, yes.

  5. Honestly, I have been buying canned pumpkin and your comment about roasting taking most of your day just confirmed why. I like to cook from scratch too, but not when it is that time consuming.

    That pumpkin cinnamon bun cake looks amazing. It sounds like a great dessert for Thanksgiving.

  6. @FBS-Yeah, I really think canned is the way to go :) The Pumpking Cinnamon Bun Cake is *so* good, and impossible to leave alone! I'm pretty sure I gained 5 pounds eating it! :)


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