Baking with Fresh Pumpkin Puree

Baking recipes usually call for canned pumpkin, but if you have fresh pumpkins can you make your own puree and use that instead?

For starters, make sure you’re using a sugar pumpkin, which is about 8 to 10 inches in diameter and usually has a darker orange exterior compared with jack-o’-lantern pumpkins. Its flesh has more flavor and is also denser and drier than that of bigger pumpkins, so it will take less time to cook. However, it’s still somewhat watery, so you can’t simply cook it until soft and then puree it.

Also, be aware that fresh pumpkin puree does not taste exactly like canned pumpkin. (Our favorite canned pumpkin from Libby’s is made from a special variety called Dickinson.) In pumpkin bread, tasters found the fresh sample a bit more vegetal and less sweet, though definitely acceptable. In pumpkin pie, tasters preferred the fresh to canned. Though its more subdued orange hue made some hesitate, they observed that the fresh pumpkin contributed a pleasant squash flavor, compared with the pie made with canned, which tasted predominantly of the spices added to the pie.

Our Homemade Pumpkin Puree can be refrigerated for up to four days or frozen in an airtight-container with parchment pressed on its surface for up to two months. You can substitute this puree for an equal amount of the canned product.

PERFECT PUREE: To be sure your homemade pumpkin puree is the proper consistency, pack it into a drinking glass and then unmold it onto a plate. It should slump slightly at its base.

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