Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pumpkin Purée

Even though this recipe is super basic, with pumpkin season in full swing, I thought I would share it.
I bought a big Long Island Cheese Pumpkin when we went apple picking last week. I had heard that they were great to cook with & had been wanting to get one. I'm so glad I did!
Last year, I used sugar pumpkins {a.k.a. pie pumpkins} for baking. But, after cooking up the cheese pumpkin, I have concluded that it's my new favorite.
This variety of pumpkin is actually from the moschata squash family...also home to the butternut squash {you can see they share the same tan skin color}. It's native to Long Island {actually, all of the Northeastern U.S.} & Puerto Rico...hence, that part of the name. The "cheese" part comes from it's short, wide shape which resembles a wheel of cheddar cheese. There are many varieties of cheese pumpkins out there...the Long Island variety is just one of them.
Once prized as the best pumpkins to use for making pumpkin pie filling, they fell out of fashion, due to their odd shape, which made conveyor belt travel difficult. But, nowadays, they have enjoyed a resurgence & are considered an "heirloom" pumpkin. Once you cut one open you can see why they are so prized. They have an amazing bright orange flesh, which is very dense & not at all stringy, like a typical Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin is. Because of their unique texture, the purée you get from them is a smooth as velvet. I was so wishing I had a baby around to feed some to!
They also have a higher sugar & nutrient content than most pumpkins...and, of course, the bright orange color means they're loaded with beta-carotene.
So, now that I've blabbed about the history of this pumpkin, I'll show you what I did with it...and, there will be lots more to come! I hope to use this purée in pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie & more.

First, begin with a big pumpkin. It should be washed well to remove any dirt from the skin. I, unfortunately, did not weigh my pumpkin...but, I would say it was at least 10 pounds. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Next, cut the pumpkin open,

and scoop out all the seeds & stringy fibers. Slice it into manageable slices & lay them out on a parchment lined baking sheet {you can skip the parchment if you'd like, but it helps a lot with clean-up!}.

If you're feeling especially adventurous, you can save the seeds for roasting.

Another great thing about these pumpkins, is that the fibers are very defined, similar to a spaghetti squash & the seeds are much easier to pick out than most. I find that putting all the fibers & seeds in a bowl of water & letting the seeds float to the top is the best way.
Roast the pumpkin for 45 min-1 hour, or until tender. It may take less, depending on the size of your slices. Flip the slices halfway through the cooking time.

When done, let it cool enough to handle, then scoop the flesh out into the bowl of a food processor {depending on the size of your pumpkin, you will need to do this in batches}. Process until very smooth.

Pumpkin purée can be used in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. You can use it right away, or freeze it for future use.

My, approximately 10 pound pumpkin, yielded 8 cups of purée...plenty to make lots of pumpkin recipes!

Pumpkin Purée

Makes approx. 8 cups of purée
This recipe is very loose. You can use any size, or variety pumpkin of your choosing. This method can also be used for any Autumn squash. Just be aware the results will vary.

1-10 pound Long Island cheese pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the pumpkin & cut it in half. Scoop out all the stringy fibers & seeds. Slice the pumpkin halves into manageable slices & place them on a parchment lined baking sheet {depending on the size of your pumpkin, you may need two sheet pans}.
Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the flesh is tender. Flip the slices halfway through the cooking time.
Let them pumpkin cool enough to handle it. Scoop the flesh out into the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the steel blade attachment. Process until very smooth.

Use the purée in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin, or transfer to sealed containers & freeze, for future use.
Click here for the printable recipe.


Joanne said...

So first I need to find one of these cheese pumpkins. And then I need to find a way to haul a ten pound pumpkin back to my apartment. I'm on it. That puree looks dreamy creamy delicious.

Chelsea said...

I absolutely love the idea of using fresh pumpkin puree instead of that mysterious canned pumpkin at the grocery store. I love anything fresh and would have had no idea how to make my own without this post! Thanks for the recipe!

Shannon Mac said...

looks lovely! Getting my hands dirty with some pumpkins this weekend -- wahoo!

Deb V said...

How did you know I was thinking about what kind of pumpkin I should buy and how to go about this? Thanks for the timely post!

Cindy Waffles said...

Great pictures! Thanks for the recipe!

Unknown said...

Awesome! Thanks for the information.. I followed your instructions yesterday with my first cheese pumpkin and it came out perfect!Now I am on to my first fairytale pumpkin then a peanut pumpkin... we went crazy at the farmers market and bought all three varieties... though I was in search of the standard pie pumpkin..

Winnie said...

I grew cheese pumpkins in my garden this year because they are my absolute favorite for baking. Your puree is so gorgeous!

Anestazia said...

Do you think you could do this with other pumpkins? I have no idea where to find a Cheese Pumpkin around here.. lol.

katie said...

Not sure where you're located...but, you could look for a sugar pumpkin, sometimes called a pie pumpkin. They are known to be great for cooking with too.

Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant idea!!! I can't wait till the holiday season now, I'm going to use these instructions so I can make my own fresh pumpkin pies!!! thank you so much for sharing this =D

Fusiongr8 said...

Thanks for this great post. Cooking the LI Cheese squash right now! When I was looking for a pumpkin the guy sold me this one. I must admit I was reluctant because it was so beautiful. My thought was pretty and tasty too?

Making bow tie pasta with creamy pumpkin sauce. Throw in a little onion, red bell pepper and garlic and yum!

Evelyn Cucchiara said...

About to go cook my pumpkin - thanks for the great, easy to understand way to do it!

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