It’s that time of the year again. Depending on where you are in the world, you may see the rich oranges and yellows of fall, experience brisker weather, or maybe you just see that Starbucks has pumpkin spice things again. Regardless of where you are, pumpkin is the staple flavor of fall.
You may be thinking, “I should get a pumpkin this year and do something else besides carve it…but what would I do with it?” Know this: pumpkin is an extremely versatile squash that can be used in a ton of recipes. The best thing to do with a pumpkin is to make it into a puree, so you don’t have to buy canned pumpkin from the store. That canned stuff is usually loaded with sugar and can have chemicals from the can itself.
How do you make pumpkin puree? What pumpkins should you buy? Well, save those gargantuan pumpkins for the kids and let them carve them into two-toothed faces with triangle eyes. Those are not sweet, so they do not lend themselves to cooking. But please, do not throw away the seeds. You can season them with a little sea salt and black pepper and roast them for a healthy snack. If you’re feeling saucy, toss the pumpkin seeds in some liquid aminos, wasabi, ginger powder, garlic powder, and a little black pepper.
The pumpkins you need for this puree are small. Stores will usually indicate that they are sugar or pie pumpkins¾Baby Bear or Baby Pam varieties are great. Before you get going on the pumpkin prep, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once you have two of these small pumpkins, cut off the tops, and then cut them in half. Scoop out the insides and save those seeds. Cut each scooped-out half in half again so you have 8 pumpkin quarters. Place them on the baking sheet, drizzle a little olive oil over them, and bake for 45 minutes.
Once the pumpkins are done baking, take them out of the oven, and let them cool until you can handle them. Remove the skin with a knife and put the meat in a food processor or blender (you may need to do this in a few separate batches). When you puree the pumpkin, season it with a little allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, ground cloves, and a few dashes of sea salt. You can add spices to taste. Just keep blending and tasting until you have the flavor you want.
The best way to store the puree is to put it in quart-size Ziploc bags. You can also use glassware to store it if you prefer that method. If you place the puree in the fridge it will keep for a few days, but you can freeze it and it will be good for several months.