Homemade Pumpkin Puree for Baking
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Tomorrow is Halloween, and I’m having really mixed feelings about this.
I am a certified Halloween Freak, and have been since the beginning of time. Well, MY time, at least.
This is the very first time I’ve not decorated. We were so busy this Fall, with all the clean-up and harvesting and getting ready for the upcoming rains and cold and possibly, snow. It’s a lot of work for Bill and I just didn’t have the heart to bug him about hauling down all those large bins (I think about 7?) from the attic space in the garage.
Plus, I’ve been having bad back issues and just didn’t feel up to it all.
So, yeah, that’s sort of a bummer. But without anyone else in the house, it just seemed a little pointless.
I don’t think I’ll do this again. It’s too depressing and reeks of indifference. Which is not how I want to live my life!
One of my proudest achievements in life has been raising kids who were enthusiastic about Halloween. My oldest son spends months designing and sewing costumes for himself, his wife and my young granddaughter. His creations are amazing and I just marvel at his artistic talent. It was funny. He’s doing a “Game of Thrones” theme this year (I’ve never seen it, personally). I got a text from him and opened it to see his face, looking like he’d been in another scooter accident. My heart just about dropped. Then I noticed his text: “test makeup.” I wanted to kill him, it was that realistic.
In the past, I’ve always made stuff for the grandkids and for our house, too. I love this witch I painted. We managed to score a bunch of apple boxes last year, and it turns out they clean up pretty well.
So, I got out my acrylics and went to town. And this witch is the result. I also did two for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. I’ll be bugging Bill to get down the Thanksgiving bins any day, now. Luckily, for him, there are only two for Thanksgiving. Which will be nothing, compared to the 14 or so I’ve accumulated for Christmas.
Every year, I grow several “Cinderella” pumpkins, which are great for making pies, breads and cakes. Some people like to use pumpkin for soups and stews, too.
It takes very little effort and time to make your own puree. If you decide to try it this year, I think you’ll find it’s well worth the work involved. I get some rave reviews on my Thanksgiving pies. But do keep in mind that this puree is wetter than the canned stuff, so you may want to cut back on the amount of liquid in the recipe when the time comes.
To make pumpkin puree, cut up your clean PIE pumpkin into chunks. They can be as big as 4 or 5 inches. A standard carving pumpkin won’t do it, as they’re not bred for their flesh. If you don’t have Cinderellas, there are lot of other varieties out there cultivated for eating. Ask the people at your pumpkin patch, or buy “pie pumpkins” at your local store. Those are usually tiny, so you may want to buy several.
The chunks will be exuding a LOT of liquid while baking, so you need to use a baking pan with sides. Personally, I go for a deep-sided roasting pan, rather than a sided half-sheet pan, just to be on the safe side. The last thing you want is hot pumpkin juices splashing on you when it’s time to remove them from the oven.
Preheat your oven to 350°. Lay out your chunks – it doesn’t matter if they’re a bit crowded. Bake for 45 minutes or so. After half an hour, take a knife or fork and pierce the pumpkin. When the fork goes all the way to the rind easily, they’re done. Remove the baking pan from oven and let cool.
Take a large soup spoon and start scooping out the cooked pumpkin. Place in a food processor, and continue with the rest of the pumpkin.
Process until your puree is smooth, with no lumps.
This next step is really important in order to get a nice, thick puree.
Grab a large bowl and into that, place a large colander. Line the colander with cheese cloth, so that the puree doesn’t seep through the colander’s holes.
Empty the food processor into the lined colander and let drain. In the evening, I empty the liquid from the bowl and put the bowl and colander in the fridge overnight.
The next day, scoop your puree into labelled mason jars, leaving about an inch of airspace at the top. Freeze until you need it. You’ll notice a difference in your baking, I think!
Have fun and have a Happy Halloween!
By the way, if you haven’t invested in a Cuisinart mixer, the Holidays are the time! Here’s your link from Amazon. If you do buy one, keep it on the counter! These are heavy and I promise you, you’ll never use it if it’s not readily available. You’ll love it! Here’s your link: http://amzn.to/2gO1ADV