Learning how to puree pumpkin or winter squash is a very simple and satisfying task.
Many types of squash can be used interchangeably with pumpkin. In fact your typical can of pumpkin you purchase at the store- you know the one that says “100% Pumpkin” on the label, is actually more like a butternut squash.
I recommend experimenting with squash or pumpkin varieties until you find one that suites you because the typical pie pumpkin actually cooks up with low yields and a little watery. Many heirloom varieties such as Rouge vif d’etampes for example have a thicker wall of flesh and are a bit less liquid after processing. I’ve heard very good things about Sweet Meats- even that you don’t need to process them for storage because they will last from one year to the next. And here on this post, a blogger shares her experience with kabocha, comparing it to an heirloom pumpkin.
As for myself, while I still plan to experiment with varieties in our large garden space, I’ve been extremely pleased with butternut squash as a pumpkin substitute this year. It cooks up very quickly, with little unwanted liquid, and has a very natural sweetness that for me means less sweetener has to be added.
How to Puree Pumpkin & Other Winter Squash: Method #1
This first method is a bit more labor intensive, but is more frugal in that it allows you to save and toast the seeds as well as requires less energy because of a shorter baking time.
•Cut the squash in half.
•Use a knife to cut around the seed cavity.
•Use a metal spoon to scrape down the sides.
•Scoop out the guts, hollowing the seed cavity.
Retain the seeds for roasting if desired. Or you can feed them to your pets, chickens, or pigs as they are a natural dewormer.
•Place upside down on a baking sheet or roasting pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.
(Lining it with foil made me feel warm and fuzzy like I wouldn’t have as much mess to clean off the pans, but the liquid leaked underneath anyway so I’d skip it next time.)
•The squash is done when you can easily pierce through the flesh with a fork or knife.
See all the browned caramelized goodness??
•Using a metal spoon or a melon baller, scoop out the soft flesh, discarding the skins. (Mine get turned into bacon.)
How to Puree Pumpkin & Other Winter Squash: Method #2
This method saves you the effort of scooping out the hard seed core as it isn’t done until after roasting. But it will take an extra 30-60 minutes in the oven depending on the size of your pumpkin or squash. With this method, the seeds can’t be used for a de-wormer on the homestead because they are no longer raw.
•Place whole pumpkins on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for about an hour or two (depending on the size of the squash). The squash is done when you can easily pierce through the flesh with a fork or knife.
•Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seed cavity, converting into bacon, if applicable. Then scoop out the flesh for pureeing.
•For either method, your options for pureeing vary.
For small batches, I usually just get out the foley food mill. You could also use a blender or food processor. For larger ones I’d use a food mill (like this one). Depending on the variety of squash you have, even whipping it up with a Kitchen Aid mixer works well. I find pumpkin to still be too tough and fibrous for it to get truly smooth with the mixer, whereas it works extremely well with butternut squash with has more of texture similar to sweet potatoes.
The next steps are optional…
Add spices, milk, sweetener, and eggs.
Stir well and spoon into an unbaked pie crust and bake for an hour or so and you’ll have a beautiful pumpkin pie.
Visit HERE to get my recipe for Butternut Squash Pie.
Alternately, you can freeze the puree for future use.
The government who doesn’t trust you to use your senses to determine food spoilage no longer recommends canning pumpkin puree because of varying thicknesses of texture which yield in inconsistent results. The heat might not necessarily adequately permeate through.
If you’d still like to can your pumpkin, it is possible to do so by canning cubed pumpkin or winter squash in a pressure canner. Either way by freezing or canning, when you go to prepare your meal you’ll have an extra step of thawing in the first case or pureeing in the second case before you have a useable product. In the absence of a pressure canner in my home, the freezing is my only option.
What variety of winter squash or pumpkin do you like to use for your winter baking?