Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles California where nobody I knew made anything from scratch, so the idea of making my own pumpkin puree was something I was unfamiliar with. For years I have wanted to make my own puree for pumpkin inspired baked goods, but never seemed to get around to it till this year. I never imagined how incredibly easy it is to do.
For many of you fellow homesteaders this is nothing new but I know there are plenty of people out there like me who grew up in very different homes where convenience was the only choice so for you I say if I can do it so can you.

I came home with a plain old Jack O Lantern Pumpkin that I bought for 2.99 and went online to research how to bake it. I quickly learned that pumpkin aficionados say that you need a small sugar pumpkin to make pumpkin puree for baking but that is not the pumpkin I had and decided to try it anyway. There are plenty of resources online including some pretty funny you tube videos to find out how to do the job but the steps are so easy and the results were delicious even from this plain old Jack O Lantern pumpkin.

First clean out the insides of you pumpkin, save the seeds for roasting, I also saved the stringy insides to give to Hamilton my pot bellied pig who loved the treat. Cut the clean pumpkin in half and place upside down on a baking pan and bake at 375 till soft to cut through. Let the pumpkin cool and peel of the outside peel. The peel became a treat for my horses making the whole pumpkin edible with the exception of the stem. Cut the soft baked inside of the pumpkin into chunks and place in a strainer mashing up a bit to allow some of the water to drain off. Once most of the liquid has drained away you can mash the remainder up up to make puree. I read that is can be pureed further in a food processor but I was afraid it would become to liquefied. I read online that is was not really safe to can pumpkin so I froze it in freezer bags about 16 oz. each (the amount in a can of pumpkin puree). My medium pumpkin filled 9 bags, so the cost savings over buy canned is significant.
 The house smelled amazing while the pumpkin was cooking. I used the puree to make pumpkin spice cake and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I loved this project and went right out and got another bigger pumpkin to make even more puree for the freezer. I see this a project to be repeated every year when pumpkins are in season. The only thing that will make it even more fun would be to use pumpkins that I grew in my own garden but I am not there yet...someday.