You might remember my post about canned pumpkin versus fresh pumpkin where I reviewed which is better for you versus which might taste better. In today’s post I’m going to give you the must have steps for cooking pumpkin at home. As a bonus, I’ll also tell you which tastes better (canned or fresh), and let you know which one costs less. Cooking pumpkin is easy. Let’s get started shall we!
Step 1- Pick the right pumpkin
You may remember from my canned vs fresh pumpkin post the three steps to picking out the perfect pumpkin. If you don’t, here they are again:
- Buy sugar pumpkins, not the larger carving pumpkin
- Buy a pumpkin without a lot of blemishes on the skin
- Make sure the pumpkin feels heavy for its size… the higher the natural sugar content, the heavier the pumpkin
Got your pumpkin? On to the next step.
Step 2- Gather your supplies/ingredients
I like to gather all of my supplies that I will need before I start cooking just to be sure I’m not missing anything essential. I’ve linked to the specific items I have in my kitchen and really love.
- Sugar pumpkin(s)
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Rimmed baking sheets
- Aluminium foil
- Food processor (I found that my Ninja blender worked better than my Cuisinart processor simply due to capacity)
- Measuring cup
- Storage bags
Step 3- Get cooking
You’ll actually be completing two recipes when cooking pumpkin, one for puree and one for roasted seeds. I’ve included both below.
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut off the top(s) of the pumpkin(s) then cut in half down the middle.
- Scoop out all the seeds and stringy flesh (place into the strainer and follow instructions below for roasted pumpkin seeds).
- Cut up the pumpkin halves into smaller wedges (I cut each half into thirds).
- Line your baking sheets with foil for easy cleanup then place pumpkin wedges onto baking sheets, flesh side up.
- Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes.
- Use a fork to prick test the wedges. If the fork goes into the flesh easily then the pumpkin is cooked. If not, put wedges back into oven until done (checking every 5-10 minutes).
- Using a spoon scoop pumpkin flesh out of the skin (I found this much easier when the pumpkin was still hot, but be careful not to burn yourself).
- Run the pumpkin flesh through your food processor until it is smooth, adding water as needed for consistency. I had so much pumpkin I had to process it in a couple of batches.
- Once you have your nice smooth pumpkin puree, place once cup of puree in a sandwich sized storage bag and lay flat to freeze.
Roasted pumpkin seeds
- While pumpkin slices are cooking separate the pumpkin seeds from the stringy flesh under cold water.
- Place cleaned pumpkin seeds into a pot of water and boil over high heat for 10 minutes. Make sure there is enough water in the pot for the seeds to move easily.
- Drain water from pumpkin seeds and set aside to allow as much water to drain as possible, or use paper towels or a clean towel to dry seeds as much as you can.
- Place seeds on a foil lined baking sheet and spray with coconut oil (just enough to coat lightly).
- Sprinkle salt over the seeds.
- Place in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven and roast for 30 minutes, stirring half way through.
- When done, seeds will be golden and crunchy. If they are not, continue roasting for 5-10 minutes at a time until done, stirring before placing back in oven each time.
So, there you have it, a nice easy recipe for homemade pumpkin puree plus a bonus recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. Now… on to the fun part. Which puree tastes better (canned or fresh), and which one cost less?
The taste test
Once my pumpkin puree was done cooking, I let it cool down so that I would be the same temperature as the canned puree. My thinking was that if the homemade puree was warm then of course it would taste better than cold canned puree. I placed a bit of puree from each on a spoon and compared them visually. Overall, the fresh puree was definitely more visually appealing. It looked smoother and had a brighter orange color while the canned puree was dull and grainy looking.
After visually inspecting the purees I tasted a bit of each (a couple of times… just to be sure), and was able to immediately feel a difference in texture in my mouth. Again, the fresh puree was smooth and creamy while the canned was a bit grainy. As for taste, hands down the fresh puree won the taste test. While the canned version had a taste and smell that was stale and bland, the fresh version tasted bright and flavorful.
So, in my opinion, the fresh pumpkin puree is the clear winner as far as taste goes. I’m thinking that the high heat process used to make the canned version shelf stable creates that bland taste and also likely contributes to the dull color. While I could definitely sit and eat spoonful after spoonful of the fresh puree, the same could not be said for the canned version.
Now let’s talk turkey… oh wait… that’s a post for November 😉 . Let’s compare the price of canned versus fresh. I was able to get three cans of pumpkin puree for $1.99 each on sale and each can has 1.5 cups of pumpkin puree. So $6.00 for 4.5 cups. Not too bad, that’s about $1.33 per cup.
As for the fresh pumpkins, they were not on sale and I got the two pumpkins shown above for $6.00 (a nice easy comparison!). When all was said and done, I ended up with 10.5 cups of fresh pumpkin puree making it about $0.57 per cup. Plus, I got 2 cups of roasted pumpkin seeds too. 🙂
Now, I’m sure there will be some people who will say… but what about the gas/electricity to cook the fresh pumpkin? Well, my thought is this… my oven heats up my house every time I use it and considering pumpkin is a fall/winter food, the price to cook the pumpkin is offset by what you would be paying to heat your house during the colder months anyway. 😉 Plus… the fresh puree tasted SO much better than the canned! Even if it cost a little more to make the fresh version, I would likely pay the bit extra for the better taste.