Maybe you decided to make your own pumpkin pureé because of all the buzz about canned pumpkin actually being squash (which, by the way, is a load of bull: it's made with ugly pumpkins, but pumpkins nonetheless). Or maybe you just wanted to be that person that proudly proclaims that they made everything from scratch for their Thanksgiving feast this year (ahem, me).
Whatever motivates you, I've got some good news: making purée is easier than you think, and that's all thanks to the modern-day marvel we all know as the microwave—the appliance you swear is totally unhealthy for you but you resort to all the time anyway because you love convenience.
Don't worry, your secret is safe with us.
- pumpkin (I used a pumpkin pie pumpkin, as seen in the center, but you can use a large one, too.)
- microwave-safe bowl
- plastic wrap
- heavy knife (I used a cleaver.)
Make sure you cut enough off the top to give you a nice opening to scoop out the guts. (And obviously use your hand to keep the pumpkin steady, not another pumpkin as seen below.)
Scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Don't be gentle, either: the more stringy stuff you scrape out now, the less you'll have to deal with in your puree.
As for the seeds, I highly recommend roasting them! Just plop them in a bowl of water and let them sit for a little bit; the pulp will separate and sink to the bottom and the seeds will float at the top.
Use your cleaver to cut the pumpkin into slices. I quartered my pumpkin, then halved those quarters to end up with 8 slices total. (Of course, if you're using a big pumpkin, you'll have to cut it into even more pieces to ensure even and fast cooking.)
Make sure that the plastic wrap is completely sealed around the bowl—this is very important. The pumpkin slices will be steaming in their own liquid, and if we don't effectively trap the steam in the bowl, the pumpkin flesh will be dried out and leathery.
Your total time may vary depending on the wattage of your microwave. I recommend checking on the bowl halfway through (7-8 minutes into cooking) to make sure that the plastic wrap is still trapping all of the liquid in the bowl and that the pieces are cooking evenly.
Once the time is up, the bowl will be extremely hot. I used oven mitts to take the bowl out of the microwave and opened the plastic wrap facing away from myself to avoid getting burned by the trapped steam.
If your plastic wrap held and your pieces are fully cooked, then the skin will be super easy to peel with your hands!
And that's all there is to it! Super easy and much more flavorful than the canned stuff.
If you're not going to be using your purée right away, you can store it in the fridge for up to a week or freeze it in a resealable freezer bag for up to 6 months.
Your fresh pumpkin purée can be used for any pumpkin recipe you've got planned, whether it be brownies, baby food, or pie—as you can see, I've chosen the latter (with a giant scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top).
This trick can be used for other squashes as well, such as butternut, acorn, or kabocha. Whatever you choose to do with it afterward, I hope this makes cooking with these squashes a lot less hassle and a lot more fun.
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