Have you ever gone to the farmers’ market and ended up spending $75 only to get home, open the trunk of your car and realize that everything you bought was squash related? That was me a few days ago. I’m not even exaggerating. Every item I purchased was a squash or pumpkin. Every. Single. One. Personally I blame the people who come up with those cute names like “sugar pumpkin” (I mean, hello, how sweet will that be?!), “peanut” and “honey nut” and “celebration” (who doesn’t want to party with squash?!) How could I resist that manipulative marketing ploy??
You could say that I’m a sucker for the Cucurbitaceae family, and that would be true, but it’s not just a love for that squashy taste which is earthy and sweet and so delicious. There’s so much more to it. Those lovely squashes and pumpkins represent autumn, and leaves turning colour, and big cozy sweaters, and brisk cold, smoke-tinged air. They evoke images of steamy bowls of butternut squash soup, luscious chunks of dark pumpkin loaf, and of course homemade nutmeg-laced pumpkin pie with oodles of whipped cream.
Sounds like a delicious conundrum, but the fact remains that I have a TON of squash that I will have to do something about. I wonder if my family will turn orange from too much beta carotene. They are about to find out.
Once we’ve stuffed ourselves with roast squash, squash soup, squash puree, and pumpkin pie, I’m sure I’ll still have enough squash to get me through the winter. I don’t have a cold cellar, and my luck at trying to overwinter things in the garage or basement have been total fails. That being said, I have found that freezing pumpkin/squash puree has worked out really well. That way, I can make delicious soups, and sweet desserts any time I want.
Make your own pumpkin puree?? Yes you can!
Learning to make my own puree was one of those strange epiphanies. I couldn’t believe it really was that easy. Here’s the thing: I firmly believed that pumpkin puree was difficult to make. I thought it was such a hassle that it could only be processed in giant vats in a big factory somewhere and that there was no way I could make it myself without sustaining serious injury or wiping pumpkin splatter off the ceiling for the next six months. But let me tell you: it is THAT easy. It is just as easy as picking up a can of pumpkin at the store. Sure, you can’t just open a can and go, but the return is a brilliant orange flesh that is sweeter and far tastier than its canned counterpart. And really, it doesn’t take much time or effort; all you need to do is plan in advance so you can have the puree ready to go for your next recipe.
Once you’ve roasted your pumpkins (or squashes…this recipe is totally interchangeable), you’re ready to whip out that favourite pumpkin recipe and reap the delicious rewards.
PSL‘s will never be the same, I promise!
Here’s what I do:
How to Roast a Pumpkin (or Squash) and Make Some Great Puree
Preheat the oven to 350degreesF. Cut the pumpkin in half and gut it. Don’t throw out those seeds. Pumpkin seeds are amazing salted and roasted. (I’ll post more on that later).
Put the pumpkin halves on a parchment paper lined baking sheet face side down. Put in the oven and bake for an hour or so until the skin turns a darker orange and a fork very easily pierces the skin and flesh. Remove and let cool until pumpkin halves can be handled easily. At this point the pumpkin skin will have puckered and sort of collapsed in on itself.
Use a fork to scrape the flesh from the skin, or if you’re like me, just use your fingers to peel the skin off. It should come off pretty easily.
You can, at this point, puree it further in a food processor or even toss it in your kitchenaid mixer and beat it with the paddle attachment. I like to transfer the puree to freezable containers in 1 cup sizes since most recipes I use call for 1 cup, then I can just pop one out of the freezer and it’s ready to be whipped up into some lovely pumpkin goodness. Pumpkin puree freezes really well and can be kept up to a year without sacrificing much flavour.