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I’ve wanted to do a post on baking with real pumpkin for a while now. We’re all used to reaching for the cans of pumpkin purée for our pumpkin pies, but there’s something beautiful about baking your own pie pumpkin and making your own purée, not least of all is that each pumpkin tends to make way more than you need! (Hey, I’ll never quibble with having extra pumpkin around for my baking!)
Fresh off my week-long business trip to New England, I was trying to make up for lost time with my kids, so I thought what better than to take them to the pumpkin farm! We have an outing to the farm at least once every October to pick pumpkins, run through the corn maze and maybe take in a hay ride, so it seemed like the perfect after school activity this week.
We headed out on our mission to each pick the perfect pumpkin. My son, not surprisingly overestimated his own strength and picked a big one (seems the 100-pounder we picked up two weeks ago is now old news) and of course I had to help carry it from the opposite end of the field all the way back. My daughter chose a more delicately shaped, somewhat smaller gourd, but also needed help carrying it. They insisted I get one too, oh yes, then we needed to get one for nearly everyone else they could think of. So, shoulders sagging from the weight of bags and bags of pumpkins of all sizes (did I mention you pay for these pumpkins by the pound?!), we trekked back to the big red barn to pay for our purchases. (Thankfully, from there they loaned me a wheel barrow!)
Oh but wait, there’s more. Turns out, my son had designs on making these pumpkins into pies – his favorite dessert. I proceeded to explain that pie pumpkins are different from jack-o-lantern pumpkins because they are sweeter and less stringy inside. Well, then, you just know we had to get a special pie pumpkin as well, and since he was picking it out, it weighed 7 pounds (now, that’s a lot of pie).
I made this pie pumpkin into an incredible pumpkin pie and realized that although we’ve covered making the crust from scratch in recipes, newsletters, videos and ebooks, I had never really shared with you, my dear readers, the art of baking the pumpkin for the pie from scratch.
So, I have outlined all the steps below for you to make delicious pumpkin purée for your next pie, bread, cookie, donut (yes, I said donut), or any other pumpkin concoction you can devise. My 7 pound pumpkin baked out to 6 cups of purée—plenty for several recipes (so far this week I’ve made pie, bread and donuts, and I still have more left!). No need to buy such a large pumpkin, but if you do end up with more pumpkin than you need, feel free to store the leftover purée in a freezer bag and leave it in deep freeze for up to one year! Saving work next autumn sounds good to me!
Select a pie pumpkin, not a jack-o-lantern variety. The local farm should be able to help you with your selection.
Cut the pumpkin in half with a large, sharp knife.
Scoop out the inside seeds and strings with a spoon and discard (you may roast the seeds for a delicious snack, if you like – see my blog posting for the how-tos).
Wrap the two halves in foil and place, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Bake in an oven preheated to 375°F for 1 hour, or until fork tender.
Remove from oven and allow to cool before handling.
Scoop out the “meat” of the pumpkin when cooled, and purée in a large food processor or blender. If your pumpkin is particularly stringy, push through a sieve to remove the strings before baking with it. For my 7 pound (precooked) pumpkin, I got 6 cups (3.6 pounds) of purée – plenty for a few pies and leftovers! Use purée promptly, or cover and refrigerate for use up to 4 days later, or deep freeze for up to 1 year.
Pie Crust Recipe
(with step-by-step photos)