I really wish I had taken photos of these steps, but honestly, making your own homemade pumpkin puree is so simple, you won’t need photos! However, simple as this may be, it is a long-ish process, so I recommend reading these instructions thoroughly before starting. Also, while you could probably get this done in one long day, I find it easier to start in the morning or afternoon of one day and finish up the next morning.
First, get a pumpkin, but don’t carve it. We usually get them the weekend before Halloween and put them outside, as is. Once you’re thinking about making the puree, bring them in so they have time to get to room temperature.
Put the entire pumpkin in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees (F). The best way is to put it on the highest rack that it will fit on if it’s a big pumpkin, otherwise, middle ones are okay. Put a piece of tin foil underneath to catch any juices. I don’t recommend putting it on a cookie sheet because it won’t bake evenly.
Depending on the size of the pumpkin, it will take anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours to bake the pumpkin. The pumpkin will be ready when you can stick a large chopping knife in and out with ease. Real ease too, where you can do it with one hand and don’t have to wiggle the knife to get it in. Take the pumpkin out of the oven and place it on something that can take the heat and is big enough.
Be careful here, because the pumpkin is hot and will release a lot of steam. Peel off as much of the skin as you can. Use the knife where it doesn’t just practically fall off. Then, cut the pumpkin in half at the middle and push the top half over so the two halves are next to each other. Scoop out the seeds and darker orange stringy stuff and set aside in another bowl for pumpkin seeds (rinse, get rid of the stringy stuff, salt, and broil on a cookie sheet until they’re done to your taste; stir them every 10 minutes or so).
While the pumpkin is cooling, set up your blender or food processor and a bowl for the pumpkin to drain in. I use a fine mesh stainless steel colander clipped to a large bowl and lined (the colander) with an old tea towel. You can use cheese cloth or even coffee filters; just make sure there’s some room on the bottom for the water to drain into.
Cut the pumpkin into small enough chunks so they fit in the blender or food processor. If the chunks don’t mix into a puree easily, or only the bottom part is mixing, add water. You’ll know when it works when it comes out fully pureed and as creamy as baby food.
Of course, since we’ve added water (or even if the pumpkin pureed without it), we need to drain the excess water back out. We want the puree to be thick, more like mashed potatoes, than the baby food consistency we have now.
When done making the puree, cover the bowl (a towel will do) and put the bowl in the fridge to drain overnight.
The next morning, your pumpkin will be just as thick and as tasty (or more!) than the puree you get from a can! About two cups of the pumpkin is equal to one 15-oz can of puree. You can freeze it or use it immediately. I freeze mine in 2-cup batches in small bags that I then put into a large freezer bag.
We had two medium-large sized pumpkins this year, and I got the equivalent of 14 cans of pumpkin puree! Let me know if you need any.