Recipe reprinted from The Homemade Kitchen. Copyright ©2015 by Alana Chernila. Photographs by Jennifer May. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
I didn’t expect to have a favorite pumpkin, but I should have known that there’s nothing so simple as a basic pumpkin. I needed to make pie, and I asked my friends Jen and Pete if they had a spare pumpkin from their harvest. They gave me four pumpkins.
“Do a comparison! You like that sort of thing.”
It turns out there is a pumpkin variety called Winter Luxury. It’s as round as a nineteenth-century French bosom, and just as luminous. The skin is frosted with white speckles, and the flesh, when baked, is soft and velvety. This is my favorite pumpkin for pie, and when I can find it, it’s the one I roast for puree. I’ll also settle for the Long Pie or New England Pie varieties, or any common sugar or pie pumpkin I can get my hands on. The only pumpkins I don’t eat are the large, tasteless pumpkins grown for jack-o’-lanterns—those, we save for carving.
You can roast small and larger pumpkins alike, and you’ll get an average of 1 cup puree from every pound of pumpkin. Roast a few at once, and then fill the freezer with puree.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the stem end off each pumpkin, creating a flat top. Cut smaller pumpkins in half and larger ones in quarters. Scoop out the strings and seeds, and throw them in a bowl to set aside for roasting separately.
Place the pumpkins flesh side down on a greased rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the halves are soft when pricked with a fork and on the verge of collapse, 60 to 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip over each half, venting the steam away from your face. Let the pumpkins cool.
Separate the flesh from the skin, either by peeling the skin with a knife or scooping the flesh out of the skin with a spoon. Transfer the pumpkin flesh to a food processor or high-speed blender and process until smooth, working in batches if necessary. This may require some tamping down, shifting of pumpkin pieces, and patience. If the pumpkin is dry and refuses to transform into a smooth puree, add water, a few tablespoons at a time, until you have a puree.
Storage notes · Freeze in 2-cup portions. Fill freezer bags, flatten them out, and store in the freezer for up to 1 year.
Note · Homemade pumpkin puree tends to have a higher water content than canned. If you’re making soup or a similar forgiving recipe, there’s no need to worry about the extra water. But if you’re making pie, pumpkin bread, or some other baked good, drain your pumpkin puree through a cheesecloth-lined strainer in the refrigerator for a few hours before using.