Worth the Effort or Waste of Time?

Let's start with the benefits of pumpkin....
  • AIDS VISION; a cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200% of the recommended daily of Vitamin A, carotenoids and beta-carotene.
  • LOW CALORIE; 3 grams per cup of pumpkin is only 49 fiber rich calories.
  • REDUCED CHOLESTEROL; Pumpkin Seeds are naturally rich in phytosterols which may help reduce LDL levels and tryptophan which has shown to improve moods.
  • REFUEL A TIRED BODY; one cup of cooked pumpkin has up to 564 milligrams of potassium.
  • VITAMIN C; upwards of 11 milligrams can be found in one cup of cooked pumpkin.

Benefits of Pumpkin

Wouldn't you agree that it IS worth the effort and time commitment?  I would.  Yes, you can buy a can of it at the store, even get the organic, I have.  However, if I have the opportunity and time to make my own, I always take that option.  I'd prefer the only processing of my puree to be my Kitchen stove and a glass jar and not a commercial processing facility.

Ok, enough of that, on to making your own puree:

You can use any pumpkin but I prefer "milk pumpkins" or also known as "sugar pumpkins".
They are lighter in color than what you normally see.

Give them a good scrubbing.

Cut open the pumpkin and scoop out the innards.
You can either compost or save the seeds and roast them.

Slice into chunks that will fit into your pot, cover with water and boil until soft.  Depending on how big your pumpkin is and how much fits in the pot, it can take up to 30 minutes or longer to soften.

Remove sections from the pot, BE CAREFUL, the pieces will be very hot, let them cool a few minutes.  Use a spoon to scrape the pulp from the skin (the skin goes in the compost too). 

This is the undrained pulp from one large pumpkin.

Using a colander, let the pulp drain until most of your water is out and give it a stir every now and then. This takes quite a while, up to 2 hours in most cases.

This is what drained from one of my pumpkins, nearly 7 cups of water!
As you can see, draining the pulp is important.

You're done!  It's probably taken all day BUT well worth the effort in my book.
What I see here is 9 pumpkin pies to be made any time I want!

A few tips:

I normally do this on a weekend.  I'll get everything cut up, boiled and draining started then go about my day, passing by every so often to give it a stir.

Any pumpkin works but Sugar Pumpkins have a nice taste which I prefer for recipes.

If you like your pies a little rustic like me, there's no need to do anything further after draining. If you like it smoother use either a potato masher, blender or immersion blender to achieve the desired consistency.

I use a mesh strainer and cheesecloth only because I find it easier to clean up.  Any small-holed strainer will do.

Store puree in the freezer in freezer-safe jars, BPA-free plastic containers or Ziploc Bags, removing as much air as possible.  I prefer the glass jars since they are reusable and easy to clean. When you're ready to defrost, put it back into a collander while you prepare your recipe.  A little more water will drain from being frozen.

You CANNOT safely can pumpkin puree either with a Pressure Canner or Water Bath Canning.  There is no safe way, other than freezing, for long term storage.

You CAN Pressure Can pumpkin chunks.

You can find my favorite Pumpkin Pie recipe here.  I've been making the same recipe for over 20 years and it's perfect every time.

If I were to buy 9 fresh pumpkin pies at a bakery, it would cost me $20 per pie.  Yep, 20 bucks!   

The pumpkin cost me $6 so that's 67 CENTS per pie plus another $2 for ingredients.  Total $2.67 for homemade, nutrient-rich pumpkin pie.

To me that's worth the effort.  Wondering if it's worth your time and effort?

Try it.  Compare a pie made with your fresh puree and another with canned.  I promise you'll be shocked at the taste.  And if not, well, you learned something new, you have a few jars of puree and a good story to tell.

Don't just carve your pumpkins . . . Eat them!

Pumpkin is one of my favorites and recipes that include fresh pumpkin are even better.  You can easily substitue fresh pumpkin for canned.  If you need to use canned, be sure you're getting JUST pumpkin with nothing added.  Using canned pumpkin with additives such as sugar, will change the taste of your recipe quite a bit.

Pumpkin Butter, like Apple Butter, is tops in our house.  We use it every day for PB&J sandwiches; that's Pumpkin Butter & Jelly!  Check out Oh She Glows simple recipe.

Pumpkin Pancakes, oh yeah, they're perfect for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner in my book.  Mom, What's for Dinner recipe is flavorful and delicious.  If you don't have Buttermilk on hand, don't worry, Emeril's recipe is super simple to make and I use it all the time.

Pumpkin Turkey Chili sounded, well if I'm going to be honest, not so good.  I made this two weeks ago and I will attest to it's deliciousness.  Honestly, you really can't taste the pumpkin but you reap all the healthy benefits of it being in the recipe.

Pumpkin Risotto, put together in about 15 minutes, is the perfect compliment to the Chili. Southern Inlaw has an easy to follow recipe I think you'll really enjoy.

Pumpkin Pie finishes the meal with perfection.  Once you find your favorite, you won't stray, this is mine...
Click to Enlarge
Making fresh Pumpkin Puree is best from sugar pumpkins (or "milk" pumpkins as we call them here in Northern New Jersey).  They tend to be small, about the size of a smooshed medium watermelon and a light, creamy orange.  It's well worth the effort and typically you can get 2 or 3 pies from 1 pumpkin.

There are plenty of sites with instructions for making pumpkin puree; these are mine;  Scrub the whole sugar pumpkin before cutting, then cut into large slices.  Discard the stem. Bring a large pot to boil and cook until the rinds are soft.  Carefully remove the slices from the water, scrape off the pumpkin, discard the rind (be sure to compost it), and drain the pulp for an hour or so. Draining depends on how much you have.  You don't want to be able to squeeze out any water. It doesn't have to be bone dry, just as dry as you can get it. You're now ready to use the pulp in any recipe that calls for fresh or canned pumpkin.

If you love pumpkin as much as we do, check out our Pinterest Board, Healthy Pumpkin Recipes to find your favorite.

You might also enjoy our Apple Harvest board with over 650 pins of great Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner recipes, along with some adult crafts.  Let's face it, why should the kids have all the fun!

Wondering if all this is worth the trouble?  The answer is an emphatic YES!  The health benefits of pumpkin are quite amazing. Vitamin A, Fiber, Amino Acids and Potassium to name a few.  It's also easily available at most grocery stores, however, if you have the opportunity to make your own fresh puree, go for it, you won't be disappointed.