Homemade Pumpkin Purée
This year we planted a bunch of potimarron seeds - the most prominent pumpkin-like squash in our region of France. We were short on garden mulch and decided to cover the soil with sprawling pumpkin plants. It worked but there were lots of pumpkins left in the garden after the first hard frost, so we harvested them all the next morning. This left us with about 20 pumpkins of various sizes, which took up a lot of room on the counter! But we didn't want to waste any so we carved a couple for Halloween and Wendy is making a bunch of purée. Here's how she does it.
Wipe the outside of your pumpkin(s) clean and then peel them if you want to. (A vegetable peeler works well for this.) Scoop out the guts and seeds. Roughly chop the pumpkin into pieces about a 1/4 the size of your hand. Spread the pieces in a single layer and bake at 175 °C / 350 °F until soft, which usually takes 45 minutes to an hour. Then purée the baked pumpkin using a food processor, blender, or stick blender. Wendy freezes hers in portions of one cup (240g) - perfect for most pie recipes.
Curing pumpkins: Lots of good things happen when a pumpkin is cured. The rind hardens and the flesh tends to become sweeter, deeper in color, and higher in Vitamin A. Store-bought pumpkins have already been cured, but if you're harvesting one yourself, just leave about a finger's-length of stem when cutting from the vine, then leave the pumpkin(s) to cure in the sun for a week or two. You'll know a pumpkin is cured when the stem changes from green to brown and stripey - a phenomenon referred to as "corking."
Peeling pumpkins: Pumpkin rinds are edible, but Wendy doesn't always include them in her purée. We grow our pumpkins organically so there's no issue for us there. But our food processor isn't stellar and our kids don't like the bits, so she removes the rind to ensure a smooth, kid-approved purée.
Reducing Waste: The flesh for purée can come from pumpkins of all different shapes and sizes, and it's a great way to clear our counter. We also thinned the walls of our jack-o-lanterns by scooping out the flesh with a spoon. This made the pumpkins easier to carve, but it also makes them rot faster, so we made our jack-o-lanterns on Halloween. The rind and guts went to the chickens and we extracted some seeds for roasting. We saved some seeds for planting with an earlier batch, so didn't need to bother with that this time. When our jack-o-lanterns begin to dilapidate, we'll thank them for their spooky service and throw them in for the chickens.
"Harvesting and Storing Pumpkins," from Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.
"Harvesting and Storing Pumpkins and Winter Squash," from South Dakota State University Extension.