For the longest time I’ve had an irrational fear of processing pumpkins. It just seemed overwhelming. How would I cut them? Why did the guts have to be so gross to deal with?
Then as pumpkin puree climbed to $4 a can, I decided enough was enough.
In May, I planted one pie pumpkin plant and it produced 8 small pumpkins. I was thrilled. I harvested them in September before the early frost, and they ripened beautifully in time for use as Thanksgiving and Halloween decorations.
With Halloween over, it was time to take the plunge. The first surprise was that it was actually very easy to cut them open. I didn’t even have to warm them up in the microwave.
Side note: In order for the pumpkin to be easy to open, you must use a variety that is meant for baking. Pumpkins meant for jack-o-lanterns will have a much thicker skin and be harder to cut open.
I removed the seeds with a tablespoon and saved them for another project.
Cut, Remove the Pumpkin Seeds, and Cook
I lined up the pumpkin halves on my baking sheet and cooked them at 375 for around an hour. Your times will vary depending on the size of your pumpkins. When I could easily stick a fork in them and the thiner ones were starting to slightly break apart, I declared them done and took them out to cool completely.
Add Water and Blend
I don’t have a food processor or particularly large blender, so I roughly broke up the pieces by hand, added 1/2 cup of water, and used my immersion blender. If you are using a larger blender, you don’t have to add the water, but I was concerned about overwhelming the motor of mine.
Not sure what to do with the vegetables you’ve grown this year? Get my 4-page cheat sheet below to help you out.
Pumpkin Puree with Little Effort
I ended up processing four batches and got 13 bags of pumpkin with 1 1/2 to 2 cups each in them. (Sorry friends, I’m just not a huge fan of measuring!! I admire those of you who are!!) If one bag=1 can of store puree, the savings is $52. Not bad for something that takes about an hour of actual work. (I’m not counting the time in the oven.)
My son is a super picky eater because of his sensory issues, and pumpkin is one of the few vegetables that I can generally hide in something he does eat like pancakes or bread. If you only use pumpkin in one or two recipes a year, just buy a can. But if you use it more often like I do and enjoy doing this kind of stuff, then growing and processing the pumpkins is worth the savings.
Would you give this a try? If you have any tips or tricks, please share! I’m super excited to post the other two pumpkin posts coming up in the next week or so.