Which kind of pumpkin is best for baking?
- Smaller is better – large field pumpkins, which are specially bred for Halloween jack-o-lanterns, are generally too tough and stringy for baking.
- Choose “pie” or “sugar” pumpkins or other flavorful varieties, such as Sugar Baby. Small and sweet, with dark orange-colored flesh, they’re perfect for pies, muffins, breads and soup.
- A medium-sized pie pumpkin (about 4 pounds) should yield around 1½ cups of mashed pumpkin. You can use this puree for all your recipes calling for canned pumpkin.
Homemade Pumpkin Purée
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Rinse the pumpkin under cool water to remove any dirt or particles.
Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp and seeds. (Save the seeds to toast for a healthy snack, if desired.)
In a shallow baking pan lightly coated or sprayed with vegetable oil, place the two halves face down and cover with foil.
Bake pumpkin at 375°F for approximately 1½ hours, or until flesh is tender when pierced.
After baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and mash by hand or purée it by pressing flesh through a food mill or using a food processor.
Place purée in a fine meshed strainer lined with a coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth and set over a deep bowl. Stir occasionally and drain until the puree is as thick as canned pumpkin, about two hours.
Immediately store in sealed container and refrigerate. Use within three days.
Measure 1 ¾ cups of drained purée (which is equivalent to 15 ounces of canned pumpkin) and place in rigid containers, leaving ½ inch head space. Label, date and freeze up to one year.
RECIPE: Pumpkin Pie from scratch!