Make the most of your pumpkin this year with our simple and easy tips for making pumpkin puree
Pumpkin is an incredibly versatile fruit that is delicious in both sweet and savoury dishes. So whether you are making pumpkin puree for baking and using in a pie or cake, or for a savoury dish such as tasty warming pumpkin and pancetta sauce on gnocchi, let us show you how to make the most of yours.
The food waste charity Hubbub has estimated that this year 12.8 million pumpkins will be left uneaten at Halloween. It’s crazy that so many are going to waste when there are so many delicious dishes that can be made using leftover pumpkin.
One of the easiest uses for pumpkin is to make pumpkin puree which can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. The puree can also be frozen, so if you’re not sure what to cook with your pumpkin right now then you can easily store it away for a day when you’re just craving a yummy pumpkin pie, or fancy a speedy soup supper.
How to prepare a pumpkin for puree
There are two ways to prepare a pumpkin depending on whether you would like the outside of the pumpkin kept intact for carving or not. If you don’t need to save the outside of the pumpkin then this is the easiest way to do it.
You will need:
- A sharp knife
- Acutting board
- A spoon
- A pumpkin (any variety will work)
- Start by placing the pumpkin on a cutting board, select your largest sharpest knife and press the point of the blade into the top of the pumpkin. Press the handle down to cut through one side. Remove the knife and spin the pumpkin around. Repeat with the other side. Finally cut through the top where the stalk is and prise the two halves apart.
- Use the spoon to scoop out the seeds and the soft sinews surrounding them. For now, put them to the side but whatever you do please don’t discard the seeds. They are our favourite part! We always transform the seeds into a tasty nibble.
- Use the knife to trim off the bright orange skin revealing the paler flesh below. Pumpkin flesh is edible, so if you are making roasted pumpkin, for example, you could leave it on. However, in a puree, it will cause problems as it won’t break down.
Food Waste Expert and Co-founder of ODDBOX Emilie Vanpoperinghe used the discarded pumpkin peel to make tasty baked crisps. She simply sprinkles the peel with salt and a drizzle of olive oil. She then bakes them for 25 mins on the top rack of the oven at 200C until crisp.
If you don’t have a food processor at home don’t despair. Instead, cook the pumpkin until very soft, drain and allow to cool a little. Next
How to carve a pumpkin and to make pumpkin puree
If you would like to reserve the outside of the pumpkin to make a spooky Haloween Jack O’Lantern then you will need to use a different method to prepare a pumpkin for puree.
- Start by cutting a hole from the base of the pumpkin. Use a knife slanted at an angle towards the centre to cut out a disk from the base. Pull this out.
- From inside pull out the seeds and then use an ice cream scoop to scoop out pieces of the flesh. You will need to leave at least 1.5cm of flesh for carving.
How to cook a pumpkin for puree
We find this is the easiest way to make pumpkin puree as it does not require an oven. You will just need a pan and boiling water to cook the pumpkin and a food processor to blitz it once cooked.
- To cook the pumpkin for a puree put the 5cm peeled pumpkin chunks into a pan and pour over boiling water.
- Bring to a boil and cook for 15- 20 mins until just tender. (If you are cooking the scooped insides from a pumpkin you are carving instead of chunks they will need less time depending on their size, test with a fork and when they are tender they are ready.).
- Drain the pumpkin well and put the piece into a food processor. Blitz until smooth and you will have a lovely homemade pumpkin puree.
How to store pumpkin puree
Store your pumpkin puree in the fridge until ready to use. It will keep for a few days. However, if you don’t have any imminent plans to use your pumpkin puree you can keep it in the freezer until you need it.
How to store pumpkin puree in the freezer
Pour the pumpkin puree into a freezer bag or Tupperware container. Close tightly and put into the freezer. The pumpkin puree will last in the freezer indefinitely. Pumpkins are a seasonal fruit. They are only around in Autumn. In the UK pumpkin is in season and available to buy from October to December. So freezing the puree a great way to ensure you can have a constant supply of pumpkin pie all year round!
Our favourite recipes using pumpkin puree
There are so many delicious recipes that can be made using pumpkin puree. It’s lovely in savoury dishes and an excellent addition to sweet bakes too. It’s even a great ingredient for baby food! Here are some of our all-time favourite pumpkin recipes.
This is a classic use of pumpkin. It’s lovely with the added spices for a special autumnal dessert.
Get the recipie: Pumpkin pie
Gnocchi with pumpkin and pancetta sauce
For a hearty filling dish we adore this yummy gnocchi with pumpkin and pancetta sauce. It’s rich and delicious, the ultimate comfort food.
Get the recipie: Gnocchi with pumpkin and pancetta sauce
Pumpkin mushroom and pea risotto
For a lighter dish using pumpkin, risotto is a great option. This one is suitable for vegetarians and packed full of goodness. The pumpkin puree gives is a lovely sauce.
Get the recipie: Pumpkin mushroom and pea risotto
This ever-so-easy pumpkin cheesecake is super quick to make. We love the ginger biscuit base.
Get the recipie: Pumpkin cheesecake
If you haven’t made pumpkin cake you are missing out. Try this one, it’s sure to be a firm favourite. In this recipie for pumpkin cake, it suggests making the pumpkin puree in the microwave to make the process even faster.
Get the recipie: Pumpkin cake recipe
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking.