Fresh pumpkin puree adds beautiful flavor to any pumpkin recipe… you’ll never go back to canned pumpkin!
What kind of pumpkin should I cook?
Any pumpkin or squash is edible, but typically orange, “jack-o-lantern” pumpkins are not as sweet, and therefore not as tasty. Select a dense, heavy pumpkin/squash with a thick, “meaty,” flesh like the blue-grey Jarahdale, tan Fairy Tale, or red Cinderella. My favorite is the Jarahdale because of it’s sweet, smooth, dark-orange flesh. If classic orange is your only option, choose a small, heavier pumpkin. Grandma’s favorite was the tan “neck” pumpkin which is good too, but today’s varieties are even better.
How do I cook a pumpkin?
The classic neck pumpkin was usually peeled, cubed, boiled, and pureed. Stop! Save yourself a lot of hand-breaking labor, and keep all those boiled-away nutrients. Instead, BAKE IT. (Cut, scoop, bake, scoop, use.)
- Cut the pumpkin/squash in half around the middle.
- Remove the seeds and gunk. (An ice cream scoop is a great help.)
- Place the cut-side down on a lightly greased baking dish or tray with sides. Add a 1/2 inch of water to the pan. (More water may need to be added later to prevent burning.)
- Bake at 350° for 60-90+ minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft to the touch. (Quickly poke the outside of the shell with your finger, if it dents, it’s done.) The total length of baking will depend on the size and type of pumpkin you cook.
- Remove tray from the oven, dump out the water, flip the pumpkin over so the flesh side is up, and allow to cool. (Don’t forget to dump out the water, or the pumpkin will soak up the water as it cools.)
- Scoop flesh out of shell. If using a Jarahdale, you’re done. Some other varities are stringier and therefore you will want to puree the flesh in a food processor.
- The pumpkin is ready to use, or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to a year.