Fresh pumpkin purée makes an incredible pie, and it’s something you can do well ahead of time, when you have the oven space. It’s so easy, you may never go back to canned pumpkin.
Every fall, smaller pie pumpkins start popping up in markets. Next time you see them, grab a few and turn them into fresh purée for Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Bars, or any pumpkin-y recipe you happen to have. The purée freezes beautifully, too.
One fresh 3-pound pumpkin makes about as much as one 15-ounce can of the store-bought pumpkin, so plan accordingly. The taste is amazing.
- Pie pumpkins: Smaller and more adorable than a standard carving pumpkin, these cuties are also known as sugar pumpkins. Specific varieties include: Baby Pam, Ghost Rider, Autumn Gold, New England, Cinderella, and Fairy Tale. They’re grown specifically for cooking, so the flesh is denser, more plentiful, and less stringy than a jack-o-lantern pumpkin. Don’t confuse the pie pumpkins with the tiny gourd pumpkins, though–those can’t be turned into purée.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the pumpkin in cold water, scrubbing off any mud or debris. Using a sturdy knife, cut the pumpkin in half.
- Remove the seeds, the stem, and any particularly fibrous bits, then cut each half into 2 or 3 pieces.
- Arrange the wedges skin side down on a rimmed baking sheet (parchment makes clean-up easier) and bake until tender, 60 to 90 minutes.
- When finished, let the pumpkin cool completely. Next, peel or scoop the flesh from the skin.
- Add to a blender or a food processor and process until smooth.
- Spoon the purée into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and set over the sink to drain for about one hour. This step helps get rid of any extra moisture and concentrates the pumpkin flavor. After that, you’re ready to start cooking.
Recipe tips and variations:
- Save the seeds: Roast those seeds and snack on them.
- Yield: You need just under 2 cups of the pumpkin purée to replace one 15-ounce can of pumpkin.
- Freezing: The processed pumpkin freezes like a dream, for pumpkin pie in February, if that’s your thing. Scoop into a freezer bag, date, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Make ahead: Store fresh purée in the refrigerator and use within the week.
- Other squashes: Spoiler alert! Canned pumpkin is actually made from a variety of squash, the Dickinson squash, which tastes close to pumpkin. So, feel free to use this technique with another type of squash: Hubbard, Kabocha, Butternut, or Acorn.
Pumpkin, spice, and everything nice:
Fresh Pumpkin Purée
- 1 (3 pound) pie pumpkin scrubbed well (see note 1)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds by combing through the fibrous strings with your fingers.
- Scrape out and discard fibrous strings. If you want to save and roast the pumpkin seeds, rinse them in cold water and dry on a kitchen towel.
- Cut pumpkin into quarters (5 or 6 inches wide each). Place pieces skin-side down on prepared baking sheet and roast uncovered until tender, about 1 to 1-½ hours.
- Remove from oven and cool completely. Scrape pumpkin pulp off skin, discarding the skin.
- Add the pulp to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Place pumpkin puree into a cheesecloth-lined sieve, and allow to drain for 60 minutes. Discard liquid.
- Pie pumpkins: Smaller than a standard carving pumpkin, these cuties are also known as sugar pumpkins. Specific varieties include: Baby Pam, Ghost Rider, Autumn Gold, New England, Cinderella, and Fairy Tale. They're grown specifically for cooking, so the flesh is denser, more plentiful, and less stringy than a jack-o-lantern pumpkin. Don't confuse the pie pumpkins with the tiny gourd pumpkins, though (those can't be turned into purée).
- Yield: One fresh (3-pound) pumpkin makes about 2 cups of pumpkin puree, as much as one (15-ounce) can from the store.
- Storage: Store fresh purée in the refrigerator and use within 1 week.
- Freezer: Scoop into a freezer bag or glass jars (leave ½ inch head space for expansion), label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Other squashes: Use this technique on other squash, too: Hubbard, Kabocha, butternut, or acorn. Canned pumpkin is actually made from Dickinson squash because it tastes like pumpkin.
- Roasted pumpkin seeds: If you saved your seeds for roasting, toss the clean, dry seeds with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Roast on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring often.