I am really surprised at the number of people who are surprised that I roast my unused pumpkins each year and save them for future recipes. So, I thought I'd share with everybody what I do each year. It's really easy and a great way to not only save money but also to incorporate fresh, healthy food into your recipes.
This is our pile of unused pumpkins. Actually, there are a couple of small ones that ran away with my youngest son right before I snapped the photo.
Typically, I probably wouldn't bother with the larger pumpkins. The big ones that you buy in the store are grown specifically for carving. They don't have much meat and they aren't very sweet. However, these pumpkins came from my in-laws garden, and based on the others that we ended up carving, they have plenty of meat inside 'em (plus I have roasted several of their "big" pumpkins in previous years)! And I figure if these pumpkins are going into pies or other desserts, they will get plenty of sweetening up. Now, whether or not I actually get around to roasting both of them is another story.
First thing to do is cut your pumpkin in half. Then, clean it out! I actually took my kitchen shears apart to scrape the inside stuff out (my 3 year old was totally disgusted by this. "Mom, that's gross...people don't eat gross gooey things...").
Then place them face down in a baking dish. If you want to make sure they don't dry out; add about 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pan. I've done it both ways, and it doesn't seem to make a huge difference.
Bake them for about an hour at 350. When they're done, you'll be able to poke right through them with a fork (just like baked potatoes!). Take them out and let them cool.
Once they're cool enough to touch, peel them and mash them! I simply flip my halves over and scoop them out with a spoon, leaving most of the "peel" intact. Super easy. I then mash them with a potato masher, and I'm done!
Since most recipes call for 15 ounces of pumpkin puree, I put roughly 2 cups of my pumpkin into plastic baggies and then stick them in the freezer. When you're ready to make pies (or whatever else!) for Thanksgiving, just thaw out your pumpkin and you're ready to go! I've also used this for baby food - both my boys loved it. The photo above was 3 cups of pumpkin puree, which came from 2 of the smaller "pumpkin pie" pumpkins that I bought at the grocery store.
And there you go! Nice, preservative free, health pumpkin puree. Now. What are you going to use it in???