Canned Pumpkin Shortage? Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree

Roasted-PumpkinsThis is a refresh of my original post. I wrote last year about the national shortage of canned pumpkin. Well, this year there’s plenty, and there are also plenty of these small sugar pumpkins, too.  Now I have canned pumpkin in the pantry once again, LOTS of it.

About a month ago, I noticed my local store had no small cans of pumpkin. A week later, still none. Then Larry showed me a newspaper article about the super scary national canned pumpkin shortage. Another week later, friend Marlene circulated an email about it but by then, I had three “sugar pumpkins” to make my own supply.

Ya gotta luv the internet. My squashes came with a website. And the website had a link to a tutorial video. Which is how I discovered I’ve been making puree the hard way all these years. What to make with it? Try Light Pumpkin Custard for starters.

There’s also Pumpkin Pie Rice Pudding.  Also try Pumpkin Cream Soup and Chicken Pumpkin Lemongrass Soup.

Here is the easy way. My three punkins made 9 cups of puree.

  1. Rinse off the pumpkins, plop them on a baking sheet, roast at 350 degrees F. for 90 minutes or until tender.
  2. Let cool for a while.
  3. Slice in half, scoop out seeds and pulp (seed making post upcoming).
  4. Peel off the rind. It’s like working with a large, super ripe avocado, so using my fingers helped not lose chunks of rind in the mash.
  5. Put the meat onto a cookie sheet and mash with potato masher.
  6. Scoop into freezer bags in one-cup portions.  Store up to six months in the freezer.

Peel Roasted Pumpkin Rind

Scoop SeedsMash Pumpkin PulpOne Cup Portions of Frozen Puree

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Worth The Whisk October 9, 2010 at 10:51 am

Karen, that is a heavy cookie sheet with an edge, but you can use any baking pan, actually. I used that because it helped with the photo (low sides and shiny).

2 Karen Guerra October 9, 2010 at 10:28 am

Patti, what kind of pan are you using? It looks sturdier than the usual cookie sheet.

3 Carole October 22, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Folks who are worried about seeds and stringiness can cut the pumpkin in half and put it in the oven cut side down. I have been making pie with fresh pumpkin for years, and find that it almost always needs a whirl or two in the Cuisinart, and depending on the pumpkin, a little draining. BTW Robins pumpkin with pancetta is a nice variation on that classic Julia Child dish. Even richer!

4 Robin October 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Patti, good to see you using the sugar pumpkins. Another yummy way with these little gems is: cut off top, scoop out seeds. Fill cavity with big stale bread cubes, shredded Gruyere and some bacon or pancetta or diced ham……season some heavy cream with salt and pepper (and a pinch of nutmeg, for me); drizzle over bread stuff…..return lid to pumpkin. Set on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 oven for….about an hour and a half (until quite tender, but it will still be holding its shape). Remove from oven, remove lid and let cool slightly before slicing into pretty wedges to serve.

And I agree with other comments that any winter squash, cooked, smashed/pureed and put in freezer is SMART (I’m still cooking with squash—Long Island Cheese and Fairytale, both huge varieties—out of the freezer from last year. On 2nd batch of pumpkin bars, 2nd pumpkin pie and also a pumpkin cake.)

5 Donalyn October 19, 2009 at 3:13 am

Nice post – in a pinch, you can use a bigger pumpkin if that is all you can find, or substitute a sweeter fleshed squash like butternut. I wonder – are the seeds more difficult to seperate from the fibers when you do it this way? I also toast the seeds [squash seeds too], so I wonder if there is a difference in them like this vs removing them raw. In any case, I always let the pumpkin meat drain for a bit in a mesh strainer and then run it through my food mill to remove any strings – an immersion blender will also take care of it. I am definitely going to try this method on a squash tomorrow to see how I like it. Thanks for the info!

6 Candice October 19, 2009 at 2:38 am

What a great idea. I think most people would just be like, “Uhh, what do I do now??”

Btw, just wanted to let you know I gave you a Lovely Blog award b/c this is one of my absolute, absolute fave food blogs. 🙂

7 April in CT October 19, 2009 at 2:18 am

Thanks so much for writing about this method! This is so much easier than trying to slice a hard pumpkin before cooking. I did this tonight and it worked beautifully.

8 jules and ruby October 18, 2009 at 10:49 pm

excellent!…thanks so much for the info. i was soooo horrified that my market had no pumpkin on the shelves, BUT now i can sleep in case it happens again.

9 Nicole October 18, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Cheese pumpkins (the flat-ish, more tan-colored pumpkins) make good pumpkin puree as well. They are larger than sugar pumpkins, so I cut them open and seed them before I roast them (a drizzle of oil keeps the flesh from drying out in the oven).

10 Cooking Like Mom October 17, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Excellent! I love the pictures along with the instructions. I was always a little afraid of cooking with homemade pumpkin puree. It really is easier than most folks would think, both to make and to cook with, once you try it.

I have run mine through the food processor if it seemed a little stringy, but honestly, it’s a matter of getting used to “homemade” again instead of that super processed canned puree. When I think back to pumpkin pies of my youth, I remember a much firmer, even stringy, texture. It wasn’t at all unpleasant. As a matter of fact, the new soft pies made with canned puree can seem rather bland now.

11 Jackie Gordon October 16, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I use butternut squash when I can’t get sugar pumpkins. I live for a long time in Australia they eat all kinds of pumpkins often. They call butternut squash, butternut pumpkin and I found the consistency and sweetness to be certainly better than our canned pumpkin.

12 Kate @ savour Fare October 16, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Is it stringy? My impression is that the benefit of canned is the smooth texture. Would it help to put it through a food processor or food mill?
Patti comments: Sure, you can do that. I only had a few stringy clumps in the whole process, the texture of these sugar punkins were all excellent.

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