Monday, 24 October 2011

How to Roast a Pumpkin

Pumpkins are abundant and affordable this time of year. While most are transformed into Jack-O-Lanterns, set out as decoration, and tossed at the end of the season, I see those bright orange beauties as the fundamental component of my favorite fall recipes.

If you are anything like me and love to bake pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, muffins, cupcakes, etc., you probably know how expensive the canned pumpkin can be. At my supermarket the other day, canned pumpkin puree was on sale for $2 a can (which contained something like 1 1/2 cups). I bought the pumpkin featured here for $4 and ended up with around 8 cups of pumpkin puree and almost 2 cups of pumpkin seeds. This week, I bought another similar sized pumpkin for $2.50. So we're lookin' at about $0.75 to $0.47 for about a can's worth of puree. That's some pretty decent savings. Roasting a whole pumpkin may seem a bit intimidating, but it's actually quite easy, as I'm hoping to show you here. It's also lots of fun to roast your own pumpkin seeds for snacking.

If you can find sugar pumpkins (or pie pumpkins), they are easier to work with because they are much smaller. Just adjust cooking time accordingly.

I know 8 cups of pumpkin puree can seem a bit overwhelming, but you don't have to use it all at once. It freezes well and can also be kept in the refrigerator for around a week before going bad. I like to freeze it in pre-measured amounts such as 1 or 2 cups so that you know what you're working with when you go to defrost it. If you don't want quite as much, look for a smaller pumpkin. It will take less time to cook and puree.You can use the fresh or frozen puree as you would canned pumpkin in any recipe.

I've included a few different methods. The main goal here is to get the pumpkin cooked and soft. Use whatever method seems easiest for you! 


Lightly wash the outside of the pumpkin to remove any dirt or chemicals.

Method #1

Cut your pumpkin in half from top to bottom. 

Remove seeds and interior fibers and put them in a bowl for roasting later.

Place pumpkin halves (inside down) on foil lined cookie sheets or in a roasting pan.

Roast at 350 for an hour or more (until the skin gives a bit when pressed).

Remove pumpkin from the oven and flip over (be careful, it will be very hot). Try to let any extra liquid drain off.

Method #2

Scrape out guts like above and cut into smaller chunks. 
Place in a covered casserole dish with 1/2 - 1 cup water.
Bake at 350 until pumpkin is soft (about 45 mins - 1hr)
(this method works great for chunks leftover from carving a pumpkin)

Method #3

Scrape out guts like above, but then cut into smaller pieces and cook in your slow cooker until soft.

Once pumpkin is cooked:

Working in batches, scrape out the flesh inside the skin and place in a bowl. Puree using a hand blender. (or you can use a food processor but watch out for steam)

Once it cools, store your puree in a jar in the fridge or freeze in marked containers (sour cream containers work well for 2 cup portions)

for the fridge

for the freezer

If the pumpkin seems a bit wet you can let it drain in cheese cloth or just add a little less liquid (milk/water) than what is called for in your recipes.

You can also roast butternut squash this way. It works great as a substitute for pumpkin in baking. No one will know the difference!

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds!

Pumpkin Recipes
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

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