'Tis the season for pumpkin mania! Supermarket aisles are rapidly depleting of canned pumpkin and sweet pumpkin pie fillings. While the convenience of canned pumpkin is undeniable, it's time to dispel the notion that crafting your own is an insurmountable task.
Nutritional Goodness and Versatility Fresh pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with fiber, vitamins A and E, riboflavin, as well as essential minerals like iron and potassium. The vibrant orange flesh also contains antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lutein. Beyond its health benefits, the delightful texture and subtly sweet flavor of winter squash like pumpkin make it a versatile ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes.
Besides being an excellent choice for homemade baby food, pureed pumpkin can elevate the nutritional content of muffins, pancakes, soups, and pasta sauces for older kids and adults. When opting for pumpkins, lean towards smaller to medium-sized ones for superior purees, as the larger varieties, often used for jack-o'-lanterns, may not boast the best flavor. Seek out sugar pumpkins at your local farmers' market for optimal taste.
DIY Pumpkin Puree Yields: 4 cups Prepare yourself—this recipe may forever alter your perception of canned pumpkin with its unparalleled taste and texture. Opt for one medium or two to three small pumpkins, as larger ones tend to be tougher and more fibrous. Regardless of the size, expect an approximate yield of 1 cup of puree per pound of fresh (whole) pumpkin.
1 medium sugar pumpkin (about 4 pounds)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using a sharp or serrated pumpkin knife, remove the top of the pumpkin below the stem, then cut it in half. Scoop out all the seeds with a large spoon (save them for a healthy snack).
Keeping the skin on, cut the pumpkin into approximately 10 large pieces and place them on the baking sheet, flesh side down. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until tender and fragrant; set aside to cool*.
Once cooled, gently peel away the skin. Transfer the pumpkin pieces in batches to a food mill fitted with the fine disc. Process through the food mill to create a creamy and smooth puree.
Transfer the puree to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Nutrition Information (Per 1/4 cup serving):
Total Fat: 0 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 7 grams
Sugars: 2 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 1 milligram
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Fiber: 1 gram
*Note: Do not refrigerate immediately, as it's easier to remove the skin when the pumpkin is warm or at room temperature.