A few years ago, I decided I needed to make a pumpkin pie using an actual pumpkin. Do you get these kinds of urges? I get them all the time. Like what’s the best kind of pie crust? How do you make brown sugar? And what would happen if I substitute a little butter with bacon fat in some chocolate chip cookies?
So I did it. I bought a sugar “pie” pumpkin. When I got it home, I realized I had no clue where to begin. So I consulted books and the internet to figure out what to do with the thing. And then I made a pie. A pie that will live forever in my memory.
While I do still use canned pumpkin, it has become a tradition of mine to make at least 1 pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin each holiday season. And since I buy one or two pie pumpkins as decorations anyway (they’re just cute), the pumpkins do double duty.
So if you have a sugar pumpkin in your decor, consider using it to its full potential.
Now let’s purée some pumpkin.
First, you have to decapitate it. I was a little messy with the first one (on the left), but cut a nice lid from the second. It’s just like cutting the top off of your jack-o-lantern.
Next, clean it out. I’m not sure why, but I tried cleaning it out the same way as I do for a jack-o-lantern – through the hole up top. But then I got smart and cut the second one in half before cleaning it out. This gives you greater access to the inside and cleaning goes a lot faster.
I find an ice cream scoop to be the best tool in my kitchen for this messy job. What’s your favorite tool for cleaning out pumpkin guts?
Place the pumpkin halves on a lined baking sheet (line it with foil or a silpat for easier clean up), cut side down.
Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour. The pumpkin is done when you can stick a fork in it. The skin will still be a little tough, but with light pressure you should be able to stick the fork through the skin and through the soft insides.
Let it cool and then scoop the pumpkin meat into a food processor and whir it into a purée. [You could also do this in small batches in a blender, or put it through a ricer.]
Voila, purée. [I apologize for this photo. No matter how delicious the pie is that you make from it, a tub of pumpkin puree just isn’t very photogenic].
Now use it for a pie or any number of other pumpkin goodies.
adapted from the Joy of Cooking
1 sugar pumpkin
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil (or a silpat).
- Remove the stem. Cut pumpkin in half (cutting top to bottom).
- Clean out the stringy membranes and seeds.
- Place on a lined baking sheet, cut side down.
- Bake for 1 hour or more (depending on the size of your pumpkin). It is done when you can stick a fork through it.
- Allow to cool, then scrape out the pumpkin and purée it in a food processor (or in small batches in a blender, or put it through a ricer).
- Use it as you would the canned stuff.
Q: What to do with all of those seeds? (You did save them, right?)
A: Roast them, of course!
How to: Toss the seeds in a little olive oil or melted butter (1 tbsp or less depending on how many seeds you have). Sprinkle with salt and pepper (or for variety try a little Chinese five spice or pumpkin pie spice). Roast in oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until they start to turn light brown. Let them cool and then hide them from Dan.