Here’s the deal: it’s officially fall.  I’m in serious pumpkin baking mode.  But, it appears that there is once again a canned pumpkin shortage this year.  This weekend was the first time I saw any cans in the stores (a whopping two cans, at that).  I ordered some online a few weeks ago and now that vendor reports it will ship in 1-2 months.  Shortage or not, I will be baking with pumpkin – a lot.  I’m also going to share the goodies here, and so I feel obligated to share the love.  Even if you aren’t able to find canned pumpkin in the store yet, you can make your own puree at home in a couple of hours and with little effort.

The principle here is exactly the same as what I did when making baby food for Andrew – roast with a little bit of water until tender, puree until smooth, and in the case of pumpkin, strain off the excess liquid.  It’s easy!

Oh, what’s that?  Yeah, my pumpkin spice latte.  I have a pumpkin problem.

So, acquire some pie pumpkins, also known as sugar pumpkins.  These seem to be readily available at grocery stores now, and I also saw them at our apple orchard last weekend.  (Note: these are not the same pumpkins you use for carving your jack-o-lantern.)  Start out by taking a large, very sharp knife and slicing the tops off of the pumpkins.  (Even pumpkins with warts and belly buttons will suffice.)

Slice in half lengthwise, from top to bottom.

Scoop out all the seeds, pulp and pumpkin guts using whatever utensil you prefer – your hand, a spoon, whatever.  I find my small cookie dough scoop very effective.

Place the cleaned out pumpkin halves cut side down in a rimmed baking sheet with 1-2 cups of water (just enough to achieve about a ¼-inch depth.)

Roast in a 350˚ F oven for 60-90 minutes.

To be sure it is cooked thoroughly, test with a fork.  The pumpkin flesh should be completely tender and give easily when poked.

Scoop out the roasted pumpkin from the shells and transfer to a food processor.  (Ideally, you should let the pumpkin cool a bit before doing this.  I’m super impatient, so I usually end up burning my fingers.)

Process until completely smooth.  I let mine go 2-3 minutes to be sure it is fully pureed.

Now, pumpkins naturally contain a lot of liquid (not to mention we added some while we roasted them) so I like to remove some of the excess liquid.  This will help it have a thicker consistency like that of canned pumpkin puree.  You can strain it however you choose.  Cheesecloth is one option, but I prefer to use a mesh sieve lined with a paper towel.

I’m not sure how well you can see from the pictures, but it condensed quite a bit.  I only strained my puree for a little over an hour, and that was time enough to remove a lot of liquid.

How much liquid?  Two and a half cups!!

Store it as you see fit.  I would keep this in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days, or freeze it as needed.  If I were planning to freeze it, I would freeze it in 1 cup portions so that I could thaw the correct amount for whatever I need.  I got nearly 2¼ pounds of puree out of these pumpkins, which is a little more than one of the large cans of pumpkin puree.

That’s it!  Now you have the tools to obtain pumpkin puree even if the store shelves are bare, so now I won’t feel guilty about posting all kinds of pumpkin goodness.  Because believe me, it’s coming.

Source: inspired by Pennies on a Platter