It’s pumpkin time, and I might have gotten a little carried away when grocery shopping. You see, pumpkins are readily available this time of year, but once they are out of season, they are gone until the next year. Unlike many other foods that we import from other countries or states, pumpkins are a truly seasonal food and so when they are available, I go a little pumpkin crazy!
One of the best things about pumpkins is that they keep well for a long time. You can buy a pumpkin in October and, if kept cool and dry, it will still be good several months later. However, pumpkins do take up quite a bit of counter space, so I like to roast them, puree them, and then freeze them for later use. I usually buy sugar pie pumpkins which have a great texture and flavor for all kinds of baking.
Take a look below at the treats my family and I love to make with all of our pumpkins! But first, you need to make some pumpkin puree.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
- 1-5 sugar pie pumpkins (You can use other types of pumpkins or winter squashes, but these are usually inexpensive and an easy-to-cook-with size. Choose pumpkins that are firm and brightly colored with no soft spots. I like to roast several at a time to maximize the amount of puree I can make with minimal effort and energy usage.)
- a little coconut oil, melted
- baking sheet(s)
- Heat your oven to 350F. Using the convection setting (if you have one) will help the pumpkins to cook more quickly.
- Wash off the pumpkin. It grew on the ground, so it is probably a bit dirty. Dry it off so that it isn’t slippery when you cut it.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and the stringy insides with a spoon, and cut off the stem.
- Rub the cut side and the inside of the pumpkin with a little of the melted coconut oil. This will keep it from sticking to the baking sheet.
- Place the cut and oiled pumpkin cut side down on a baking sheet. I usually cook several pumpkins at a time–I can fit 5 sugar pie pumpkins (10 halves) on two baking sheets.
- Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and let cook for 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin and how well your oven retains its heat. I usually set my timer for a half an hour and check the pumpkin every 10 minutes after that. It is done when you can press on the outside shell and it gives a little to the pressure. You can also test it by piercing it with a fork. You want pumpkin that is well-cooked and soft, but not completely mushy.
- Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let it cool completely.
- When it is cool to the touch, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and discard the skin.
- Put the pumpkin into a blender or a food processor and puree until it is smooth. Do not add water if possible! You don’t want runny puree, and adding water at this stage will create more moisture that you will then have to remove later.
- Line a colander with cheesecloth or a clean, thin dishtowel and place it in a large bowl. Pour the puree into the lined colander and set it in the refrigerator overnight–this will strain out the liquid and give you a beautiful, thick pumpkin puree.
- Use your pumpkin puree to create all sorts of delicious pumpkiny treats or freeze it for later use. I typically freeze my puree in plastic freezer bags marked with the date, quantity, and what I intend to use it for (for example, 11/26/13, 1 cup, pumpkin custard). Then, when I want to make something with my pumpkin, I have a pack of puree all ready to go!
*Note, you can also eat this pumpkin puree as a side dish with a little cinnamon and butter. My younger daughter, A, loves it plain.
Favorite Pumpkin Recipes
Pumpkin Pancakes from Balanced Bites
These are grain-free, easy to make, and so delicious! I don’t really like pancakes too much, but these I love to eat and my kids love them, too. I like to make a double or triple batch and freeze them for quick and easy breakfasts. Just defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat on a hot skillet. I usually leave out the maple syrup and add a ripe banana for sweetness. You can also make these 21DSD-friendly by omitting the maple syrup and using a green-tipped banana.
Pumpkin Bread from Against All Grain
This bread is nut-free, grain-free and full of wonderful warming spices. It has a dense and moist texture and is H’s favorite pumpkin recipe. I love it toasted with a nice thick layer of butter! There are two versions of this bread, one made with coconut flour and one made with arrowroot, depending on your dietary needs and what’s in your pantry.
Pumpkin Bread from Zenbelly
I used Zenbelly’s recipe as a starting point and did a few things differently. I’m sure the recipe is great as written, but I had to work with what I had in my pantry and what I ended up with was fantastic. So here are my alterations: 1. This recipe uses a blender (I used a food processor). 2. I used blanched almond flour instead of the sunflower seed flour. 3. I used half the amount of maple syrup and half the pumpkin, but added a ripe banana. I also omitted the chocolate chips and made muffins instead of bread (as shown). Loved them! These freeze well, too.
Pumpkin Custard from Balanced Bites
This is A’s favorite, and it is so good warm or cold. We even eat it for breakfast! I love that it is dairy-free and minimally sweetened, but still full of pumpkin-pie flavor. I don’t even miss the crust!
Pumpkin Pie from Pumpkin Patches and More
I’ve been making this recipe every Thanksgiving for years, most recently with a crust made from nuts and seeds. The pie itself is light and fluffy–always a hit! I usually substitute all the spices with pumpkin pie spice from Trader Joe’s, and I’m thinking of replacing the evaporated milk with full-fat coconut milk this year.
Note: all photos used are from the original content creators. Please click the image to be taken to their sites for the full recipes!