How to Process Fresh Pumpkin
The garden is all tucked in for the season, and the pumpkins have been waiting in the pantry to be processed for pie, so I thought I’d share with you my process. Normally, pumpkins will keep for months in a cool dry place if they are properly cured. I have around forty guests coming for Thanksgiving, however, so I processed all my pumpkins into puree to make baking pie the day before a snap.
There are many ways of processing pumpkin or other winter squash, but I like to cut it up, scrape out the seeds (save these and roast them if you like pumpkin seed snacks!) and place in a large pot with a rack. Place a small amount of water in the bottom and steam the pieces for around 30 minutes – until the flesh is soft. Do not allow the pot to boil dry, but you don’t want to drown the pumpkin, either. Cool until you can handle the pieces without burning yourself.
Once upon a time, I used a hand-crank food mill like you see in the bottom portion of this photo, but these days I rely on the food strainer attachment for my stand mixer to quickly remove the tough rinds and strings. The puree comes out smooth and perfect. When I’ve needed smaller amounts, I’ve been known to use a food processor to blend it to acceptable consistency. This does run the risk of a few strings remaining, however, depending on how cured the squash was and how well you removed the inner cavity.
Measure the puree into freezer containers (for pie, I place 1 3/4 cup per container.) Label and freeze. I don’t jar the puree because it isn’t USDA recommended. While I could leave them whole in my pantry and process as needed, this way I have pumpkin ready to use in my recipes whenever I’m ready! What’s your favorite use for pumpkin?If you enjoy articles like these, sign up for my monthly newsletter!