Welcome to Life at the Holman's.

Within this blog, you will find everything from recipes to school ideas to everyday fun stuff and things we have learned along the way. From time to time you will find just a tidbit of our journey here in Oklahoma. Enjoy!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Puree

Homemade pumpkin puree is a fairly inexpensive way to enjoy some very tasty goodies.  A few years back, I decided to make my own pumpkin puree for the first time.  I purchased 2 medium size and one large pumpkin for $5 from a local farmer who was selling them in a plaza parking lot.  I took them home, and began preparing them for pureeing.  Of course, we carved all 3 pumpkins before cutting them up for cooking!
2006 pumpkins....soon to be puree!
This year, I decided that I wanted to make my own puree again.  After all, it is not very hard, and the end result is excellent tasting free pumpkin puree.  I began researching how to puree pumpkin.  In 2006, I cut the pumpkin into strips, peeled it, and then cut it up before cooking.  I cooked the pumpkin in the oven on 350 until it was tender.

I decided to "google" how to puree pumpkin and see if there was another way I could puree it (and to help refresh my memory as to how I had previously pureed).  I found some really good illustrated directions at thepioneerwoman.com.  Here is the link to the directions.  She also had a lot of really beneficial ideas.  First, the use of freezer bags that can easily stack and take up less room in the freezer was a great idea for me.  Last time, I used the 16 ounce containers. It works as well, but it does take up more room.   Also, turning the opening of the bag out before putting pumpkin in it really helped cut down on mess when you try to seal the bag.  I did not have the mess around the rim of the bag from putting the spoons of pumpkin in.

I decided to give the Pioneer Woman's method a shot.  Here is what I did this time:
Step-by-step Pumpkin Puree 
  1. Choose your pumpkin.  I chose a larger pumpkin that was on sale at my local supermarket for $3.33 each.  
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Use a butcher knife to cut out the vine topper.  
  4. Let your kiddos remove the "slim" and the seeds from inside.  Save the seeds for making toasted pumpkin seeds!  
  5. Cut the pumpkin in half from the stem to the bottom and around.  Use a metal spoon to lightly scrape all the goo from the inside.  
  6. Cut each pumpkin half into strips and lay the strips on cookie sheets for baking.  
  7. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until your pumpkin is tender.  
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for some time in order to be able to handle it easily.  
  9. Remove the outer skin by peeling it away.  
  10. Cut the cooked pumpkin into pieces and put it in a blender.  
  11. Puree until smooth.
  12. Put 1 cup of pumpkin in each quart freezer bag.  I used a scale to weigh 8 ounces in each bag.
  13. Flatten the bag to remove most of the air and seal the bag.  Lay flat to store in the freezer.
Here is what we ended up with:

16 - 8 ounce bags of pumpkin puree

Seeds for drying

Toasted Seeds - take about 2 Tbsp. melted butter
 and top with salt.  Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven)  until golden brown
  • While the above method is good and worked just fine, I have to say that I think the other way was maybe a little easier in the long run.  When I peeled the pumpkin and already had it cut into chunks, it seemed to cook faster and more evenly.   
  • I added about 1 Tbsp. of water to a full blender of pumpkin to help it along in the pureeing process.  It just seemed to blend smoother.  
  • 1 full blender of pumpkin chunks for my blender yielded about three 8 ounce servings.
  • I tried to use a food processor (small one), and it did not work very well.  The small food processor was taking too long.  I decided switch to my blender so that it did not take forever to finish.  It also seemed to give a more even consistency.
  • I froze the pumpkin in the 8 ounce portions because that is the amount of half of a small can of pumpkin that you buy at the store.  When I make a recipe, I usually only need 1/2 of the can.  This way I have just what most of my recipes call for.  
  • I placed my completed bags in stacks in my refrigerator freezer in a 9X13 pan to do the initial freezing so that they would freeze flat.
  • The 16 ounce sour cream or butter containers work well for storing the pumpkin in the freezer as well.  They hold the same amount as a small can of pumpkin.
  • I had no idea that cooked pumpkin actually tastes pretty good (sort of like a cross between a squash and a sweet potato) when it is baked.
That is about it.  I look forward to sharing some of the things that we use our pumpkin for in the near future.

As far as cost, here is the break down.  We paid $3.33 for the pumpkin (about 12.5 pounds) and $1.00 for the freezer bags (40 bags for $2.50).  Of course, we did have the propane for our stove, but I have no way of figuring that in. I know that it was not much though.  So...for the extras in gas, we will round up and say that we made 16 - 8 ounce servings of pumpkin puree for roughly $.38 each.  That would result in a can of pumpkin costing about $.76, and  homemade is healthier without all the additives and preservatives.  Plus...the kids had a great time getting slimy!

Then, there is my least favorite part...the clean up!  I would never win the award for "the clean cook."  I like to have a clean kitchen when I start, but I sure seem to get it messy when I am cooking!

1 Small Can Libby's Pumpkin = 15 ounces or 2 of my frozen baggies.  If you typically use a whole can of pumpkin, you can either a freeze a full 15 ounces in one bag to save on bags, or you can fill a sour cream bowl (the kind you reuse from the store when they are empty).  The sour cream/small butter bowl filled almost to the top will equal a small can of Libby's pumpkin (don't fill to the top because you have to have room for freezing and expanding).