Lots of people grow pumpkins for Hallowe’en jack-o-lanterns, tasty seeds, or to enter in pumpkin contests, but you’ll get the best value out of your pumpkins if you make some homemade pumpkin purée.
It’s easy, and you can use pumpkin purée in homemade pumpkin pies, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin muffins and tons of other recipes.
Pumpkin is very nutritious, especially the ones with deep orange flesh, and mild flavoured, so you can sneak it into all sorts of dishes to boost their nutritional value. In fact, 1 cup cooked pumpkin contains:
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.4 mg
Magnesium 22 mg
Potassium 564 mg
|Zinc 1 mg
Selenium .50 mg
Vitamin C 12 mg
Niacin 1 mg
Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU
Vitamin E 3 mg
Pumpkin is also an excellent source of many natural poly phenolic flavonoid compounds like alpha and beta carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin. Doesn’t that sound knowledgable? Don’t ask me what those are or why they’re good for you, I’m a horticulturist, not a nutritionist! 🙂
You can purée the flesh of any pumpkins (or squash, for that matter), but small, sweet-fleshed pie pumpkins are my favourite to work with. The variety I used this year is called Triple Treat, because it’s supposed to be good for its tasty flesh, hulless seeds, and for making jack-o-lanterns, but mine didn’t get big enough to carve. The seeds were yummy and the flesh delicious though!
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and stringy bits, save the seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds.
Then cut the pumpkin into smaller wedges so they fit into the pot better.
Put about an inch of water into the bottom of your largest pot and pile in the pumpkin chunks. Lid it if you can, it doesn’t have to seal, but the pumpkin will cook faster and without need to monitor the water level as much. Don’t allow the water to boil away during cooking or you’ll have a stinky, burnt mess!
Steam the pumpkin until it’s soft when you poke it with a fork, how long this takes will vary depending on the type of pumpkin (or squash) you use and how dense it is.
Pull the chunks out of the pot when they’re done and scrape the (soft and gooey) flesh from the skin. I run mine through my food mill to eliminate any chunks. You could also mash the goo or put it in a food processor, I imagine.
After the pumpkin purée is completely cooled I measure it into Ziploc bags (2 cups per) flatten them out to remove as much air as possible, and stack them in the freezer.