Roasted Pumpkin Puree

By now you’ve heard/read/absorbed-by-osmosis that the miniature sugar pumpkin, not the behemoth “jack-o-lantern” pumpkin, is the pumpkin to use for making pie…that is, if you’re not opening a can of pumpkin puree.

Sugar-Pumpkin

These dinky “pie” pumpkins are about the size of a small cantaloupe (only more squat) and weigh roughly two pounds, give or take a few ounces.

My “demo” sugar pumpkin is 2-1/4 pounds. Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes later (and a little elbow grease), I have almost 2 cups of roasted, pureed pulp…not to mention almost 3/4 cup of raw pumpkin seeds. For comparison, it’s about the same amount of puree in a 15-ounce can. Except, alas, with canned pumpkin, there are no bonus pumpkin seeds.

The skin of a sugar pumpkin is extremely hard, which is why some people tend to forgo cutting it altogether and roast it whole. Pumpkin-Half

I cut them because I want to harvest the seeds to toast later for a snack. And, I have nightmares that the darn thing will explode in the oven, forcing me to spend the rest of the evening cleaning up the mess while my sister puts on glass slippers and flits off with my Prince Charming.

It takes careful knife work to cut one of these babies in half. It’s much easier to carve a pumpkin for Halloween.

I use a sturdy chef’s knife (one with a pointy end, not a santuko) and I don’t get in a hurry. First I cut the stem off. Then I stick the pointy end of the knife in the top and push down, repeating several times to make a larger and larger slit. With some brute force, the knife eventually works through the flesh, perhaps even causing the pumpkin to crack, making it easier to rock the knife back and forth.

[FINE PRINT: For goodness sakes, be careful if you decide to cut up your pie pumpkin. The knife could slip and hurt somebody — proceed at your own risk.]


If you have any reservations at all, have your Prince Charming do the cutting part.

Pumpkin-Quarter

Once I’ve cut the pumpkin in half, I cut each half in two. It’s much easier to scrape out the seeds from quarters.

Later, while the pumpkin is roasting, I put the harvested seeds in a large bowl of water and start squishing the pulp to release the seeds. The pulp will sink to the bottom and the seeds will float.

Pumkin-Seeds

It will take a couple changes of water to get the seeds completely clean. They’re slippery little suckers.

(By the way, Jess Thompson, a poignant food writer, has a lovely post about harvesting the seeds with a recipe for spiced pumpkin seeds.)

Pumpkin-Quarters

Place the cleaned pumpkin quarters on a lined baking sheet. I brush them with a little olive oil so they don’t dry out too much, but if you’re oil-adverse, skip it and just brush them with some water.

Place the baking sheet in a preheated 400º F. oven and roast until tender, about 35-40 minutes.

Roasted-Pumpkin-Quarters

Once the pumpkin is fork tender, remove and cool. Then scrap out the pulp.

Pumpkin-shells

It will look a little stringy. (Hey, even Cinderella needed a fairy godmother.)

Roasted-Pumpkin-Bowl

The last step is to puree the pumpkin in a food processor. This, too, will take a little effort. Lots of starting and stopping, and in between, lots of plunging the pumpkin back down into the blades.

You know, Thomas Edison said “There is no substitute for hard work.”

Um, yes there is. It’s called canned pumpkin.

Roasted Pumpkin Puree

Makes 3-1/2 to 4 cups puree

2 sugar pumpkins (4-1/2 to 5 pounds total)
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

1. Heat oven to 400º F.

2. Cut the pumpkins in half and cut each half in two, for a total of four wedges.

3. Scrape out the seeds (save and clean for toasting later).

4. Place the pumpkin quarters on a lined baking sheet. Brush with olive oil (or water).

5. Place in the oven and roast until fork tender, about 35-40 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.

6. Scrape flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse, stopping frequently to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the pumpkin flesh is mostly smooth.

NOTE: Pumpkin puree will keep for 4 days, covered and refrigerated, or freeze for up to 1 month.

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15 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Tips & Tutorials

15 responses to “Roasted Pumpkin Puree

  1. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Roasted Pumpkin Puree « Pen & Fork [penandfork.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com

  2. That is noble work and I’m glad someone out there has the patience to do it! 🙂 I have used very small pumpkins as a bowl to hold pumpkin curry. It was delicious and a very impressive presentation, but I was sore the next day from cutting 8 pumpkins!

    • Dana, pumpkins are toughed skin, no? Even the tiny ones, and I’ve hollowed out a few miniature ones for soup bowls. I bet your pumpkin curry is divine. And surely worth the sore arm.

  3. Wow, you’re a patient pumpkin cutter. I’m a fan of the eyes-shut-tight-and-whack-it technique. This sounds much safer.

  4. Oh, how you elevate such simple things. You make the odious task of pumpkin-wrangling an art, teaching the finer points of cutting and scooping, as well as pointing to how & why it’s worth it. That’s the Chef Gwen I love! Gorgeous photos.

  5. Convenience is no substitute for taste. I was lazy this year at Thankgiving and I’m still wishing I hadn’t been! Thanks for the reminder that my efforts will result in a big payoff.

    • Cheryl, don’t be so hard on yourself. I am not convinced that fresh roasted always trumps canned. Especially in pies and quick breads. The warm spices sometimes blur the fresh taste. That said, I do like the act of roasting a pumpkin and having the seeds to toast…it’s like finding the toy in the cracker jack box.

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  9. Tina

    This looks so delicious! 🙂
    All the ingredients in it look great– and good idea to make this with pumpkin seeds!
    I’ve been looking around online for these so I can make it myself. 🙂

    Really like your blog

    thanks!!

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