Preserving Pumpkin

December 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm 10 comments

Pumpkin Puree

Here’s a quick and dirty little post on how to make your own pumpkin puree to freeze and use throughout the winter.  I happen to be using the large crop of butternut squash that I harvested from my garden to make the batch of puree I photographed for this post, but you can use any type of eating pumpkin.  Butternut squash, by the way, make a great substitute for pumpkins (really, you’ll never be able to tell the difference in the final dish) and are usually available much longer in the season, both earlier and later, than pumpkins. 

I find it’s best to go at the puree-making process in big batches as it is a bit time-consuming and messy whether you’re making a little or a lot so you might as well make a lot, right?   But the effort is worth it as fresh pumpkin puree is notably different from the canned stuff you’ll get at the store.  The puree is much more vibrant in color, contains a lot more “juice” that adds moisture to your dish, and retains all the amazing vitamins that pumpkin has.  Did you know pumpkins are rich in vitamin A, potassium, and fiber?  The addition of pumpkin to just about any dish can be considered a very healthy one indeed.   This pumpkin puree can be used in pumpkin rolls, pies, smoothies, ice cream, truffles, bread puddings, risotto, soup, sauces… once it’s in your freezer, you can let you mind go free to dream up all the possibilities.

Pile o butternut squash

1. Begin by collecting all your pumpkins or butternut squash. 

Cut in half with seeds

2. Cut all the pumpkins/squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon.

Steaming Halves

3.  Here’s where you have a choice to make:  steam the halves of pumpkin/squash or roast peeled and cut pieces.   The steamed halves make a more moist and vibrant puree while the roasted pieces have a richer flavor and denser consistency.   I tend to use the former in savory dishes and the latter in sweets.    To steam the pumpkin, place cut side down in a baking dish and add about an inch of water before sliding into a pre-heated 400 F oven.   Bake until a fork slides easily into the largest half.

Roasting Pumpkin

4.  Roasting pumpkin pieces is done as follows:  Use a good vegetable peeler or sharp knife to remove all skin from the flesh.  Chunk the flesh into evenly sized pieces (the smaller they are the faster they roast).  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and place pieces in a single layer.  I drizzle mine sparingly with extra virgin olive oil and dust them very lightly with brown sugar (about a tablespoon of each) and toss with my hands to coat.   This adds a little richness to the puree.   Slide into a pre-heated 400 F oven and bake until fork tender.

Pureeing pumpkin

5.  When pumpkin is done baking, remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.   For steamed pumpkin, use a spoon to scoop the flesh into a food processor or blender.  Roasted pieces can go straight into the processor/blender.   Puree until smooth. 

Pumpkin puree in bags

6.  Get out a bunch of sealable freezer bags and label with contents and date.   I fill my bags with measured one cup or two cups of puree so I don’t have to wonder later how much is in a bag when I’m making a recipe.   Flatten bags as shown above and freeze flat so they don’t take up so much room in your freezer.  Pull out of the freezer a couple of hours to thaw before using.



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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Diana @ frontyardfoodie  |  December 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    What a great way to preserve squashes!!! I’m totally going to do this next year. I had a large harvest and ended up letting some go bad (on accident!) because I was scared to can them after hearing some horror stories. I have plenty of freezer space though!

  • 2. Jason  |  December 17, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Wow… this is exactly how I do it — though it never occurred to me to do option #2 (roast peeled pieces), I’ll have to try that.

    I love having tons of pumpkin and butternut squash on hand because it’s great to find a recipe using pumpkin and not have to hesitate on whether or not it’s worth it to go buy a can of pumpkin.

  • 3. Food-Fitness-FreshAir  |  December 17, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Thank you for these tips! I currently have a pumpkin sitting in my apartment that needs something done with it. And, I’m glad to hear that butternut squash works just as well because we had a killer crop this year.

  • 4. meatlessmama  |  December 18, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I do this in big batches too. You’re right, homemade is so much more colorful! It’s really handy to have in the freezer, there are so many things you can do with it.

  • 5. Vegetable Matter  |  December 19, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for the great info and beautiful pics. Our squash crop was a total bust thanks to the evil squash vine borers. I cried all summer and was finally over it until I was your amazing butternut squash harvest. I’m so jealous!

  • 6. tastyeatsathome  |  December 20, 2009 at 12:06 am

    You’ve reminded me that I have a kabocha that I need to make into puree. All your butternuts look delicious!

  • 7. Multigrain Pumpkin Pancakes « Straight from the Farm  |  December 24, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    […] while snowed in (yah for “real” winters!), I got a hankering for pancakes and had a bit of thawed-out pumpkin puree left over from another batch of those delicious Pumpkin Pie Truffles.  I thought I’d throw […]

  • 8. Pumpkin Bread… « Straight from the Farm  |  January 16, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    […] 1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour 1/2 C. whole wheat flour 2 t. baking powder 1/4 t. baking soda 1/2 t. salt 2 t. cinnamon 1/2 t. freshly ground nutmeg 1/4 t. ground cloves 1/8 t. ground allspice 1/3 C. margarin, room temperature 2/3 C. sugar 2 eggs, room temp and beaten 1 C. pumpkin puree […]

  • 9. juliana  |  November 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Thankful to find this post — I have a huge heirloom pumpkin plus a normal-sized pie pumpkin from a local farm that I need to make into puree to freeze (at least in part — it’s too much food for the two of us), but I was concerned about getting it “right” since I haven’t handled this much squash before, and I think I’ve just made puree once. Good idea about measuring before storing!

  • 10. Judith Wise  |  November 12, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I just came across this site and hopefully you are still checking it. I have a large (10-12 lb) princess pumpkin, three butternut squash and one long neck (PA Dutch) pumpkin. I would like to mix these three since they all have very good flavoring. I usually can my food (Boiling water) but found info that pumpkin isn’t safe to do that. My grandmother and mother both did it and never had a problem. They put a little Lemon juice in with the puree and we had pumpkin for 2-3 years sometimes. NO sicknesses…… 1st would these three mix well and 2nd any other suggestions besides freezing. We live in an area when the wind blows we loose electricity and sometimes for days so I rarely trust freezing items…..


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