Fall is in the air, and that means we can stock up on our favorite fall flavor; pumpkin. Most of us have only eaten pumpkin from a can, but it is very simple to make at home. Use it for pies, cakes and baked goods, cook it as a healthy side dish, or use it in your smoothies. Once you think about how many recipes pumpkin belongs in, you will see the value in spending a couple of minutes making all the pumpkin puree you can manage. Check out how easy it is:
- Choose a pie pumpkin. These are labeled as such, but in case they aren't labeled, pie pumpkins are very small. They are very heavy for their size, and solid. The large ones you use for Halloween *can* be used, but their sugar content is much lower and there is not much flesh inside when you cut into them. Do not pay more than $1.oo - $2.00 per pumpkin. Each one will make enough for two pies once they are pureed.
- Wash and dry the pumpkin and then cut out the stem. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds (save them!).
- Place the cleaned, sliced pumpkin cut side down on a pan. I use a cake pan for this. Add about 1/2 inch of water to keep the pumpkins from drying out.
- Bake pumpkin at 350 until the skin is soft enough to pierce with a fork. Usually this takes about an hour.
- Cool pumpkin halves enough to handle safely, and peel off the skin. It will come away from the flesh effortlessly.
- Place the peeled pumpkin in a large bowl and use a hand mixer or food processor to blend the pumpkin until smooth and creamy.
That's it! Now, just use it exactly as you would a canned pumpkin. Measure out 2 cups of puree and freeze, since it's the perfect size for a pie.