Having grown up on a pumpkin farm, I get this question a ton… How do I take a pumpkin I buy at the market and turn it into a pumpkin pie? Well, believe it or not, pumpkin pie doesn’t always come from that canned pumpkin in the preserved foods aisle at the grocery store.
Here are my tips for the perfect mashed pumpkin:
- Avoid field pumpkins, which are bred for perfect jack o’ lanterns: they tend to be too large and stringy and not very flavorful.
- Ask the farmer for sugar pie pumpkins or other flavorful varieties: small and sweet, with dark orange-colored flesh, these are the suckers you want.
- A medium-sized (4-pound) sugar pumpkin should yield around 1½ cups of mashed pumpkin. This puree can be used in all your recipes calling for canned pumpkin.
I prefer baking the pumpkin over boiling or steaming to get the flesh soft enough to work with. Here’s how…
Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp. Save the seeds to dry and roast if you’d like. In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for about 1½ hours for a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, or until tender. (Stick a fork in it – if it’s not soft, keep roasting.) Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree or mash it. For silky smooth custards or soups, press the pumpkin puree through a sieve or pulse in a food processor.