This post was written out of pure necessity. As someone who likes broadening her cooking’s horizon with delicacies from all over the world, incorporating pumpkin and pumpkin spice in my fall meals was obvious. (I mentioned before how in Hungary we don’t really think of pumpkins as dessert. Yet, that is.)
I was determined to make this Pumpkin-Chiffon Pie when, after coming home empty-handed from 3 different supermarkets, I realized canned pumpkin puree is yet another item that might not be available where I live. Major FOMO, right there. After an extensive google search, I found only one place to get it, a shiny gourmet deli for the snobs of Budapest.
The rich snobs, to be precise: a 425 g (15 oz) can of Libby’s is exactly twice as expensive as in the US. In comparison, I paid the equivalent of about $0.4 for 1 kg (35.3 oz) of fresh butternut squash a few weeks back at my local Aldi. That’s such a huge price gap I’ve decided ready-made pumpkin puree is not something I’m willing to splurge on.
No big deal! I will not let such an inconvenience stop me from introducing pumpkin pie to my loved ones, so another google search later I was ready to make my own. Homemade pumpkin puree will do just fine, right until the evil canned Western threat makes its way to the shelfs of our supermarkets. (Can someone start importing it please? Like, now?)
So, if you are lucky to live somewhere so civilized to be able to go to a shop and just buy it, know that we hate you (but keep your eye out for the recipe anyway to avoid colourings, preservatives and stuff like that). But if you are as unfortunate as I am when it comes to canned pumpkin puree, don’t fret because I have the solution.
What you need to make pumpkin puree is – surprise! – just pumpkin. Or squash. There are the sort of people who will be quick to resort to violence over the pumpkin vs. squash question, but since they fall under the same genus and even if ingredient labels read 100% pumpkin, there may also be squash mixed in (full article on the subject here), I hereby declare the debate over. Whichever lifts your skirt!
I find it’s best to roast pumpkin slowly to achieve maximum sweetness and tenderness, without burning it. Depending on the type of pumpkin, the flesh of some are more fibrous. Also, some are moister than others, but these characteristics will not alter the taste of the puree. If you are making a bigger batch using several pumpkins, mix the puree of all the flesh to balance out taste differences of each individual pumpkin.
My 4 medium butternut squash filled 2 baking sheets (36×45 cm or 14×17 inch) and yielded 9 cups puree. I froze the batch in cup-sized (250 ml) portions in plastic containers, than turned out the ‘pumpkin cubes’ from the moulds and packed them in individual, labeled plastic bags for convenient use.
pumpkin or butternut squash
- Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F), line baking sheet(s) with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Wash pumpkin(s) and cut them to approximately equal chunks. Discard fibrous strands, keep seeds for later use.
- Place chunks skin side down on baking sheet and roast until tender, about 1 h 15 min (insert knife to a few slices to check for doneness).
- Let cool to room temperature.
- Scrape out flesh with a spoon, discard skin.
- Pulse in a blender or food processor until puree is homogenous. Add a few tablespoons of water if needed.
- Store in the fridge for a few days, or freeze for later use.
“Watercolor pumpkin” illustration featured in title image © freepik