Just in time for Thanksgiving. Break from your chains of supermarket servitude! Make your own pumpkin puree! Avoid that last-minute, second-circle-of-Hell run to the grocery store on Thursday morning because you forgot a can of Libby’s on your Official Tuesday Trip, only in between the pounds of butter, pounds of potatoes, overpriced pecans and vats of brown sugar you forgot the pumpkin puree, and it’s a family reunion this year and your sister definitely won’t speak to you if you forget her favorite dessert because you probably did it on purpose anyway, and you may as well NOT GO.
Don’t let this happen to you! Pumpkin puree is as easy as, well, pie. Just make sure you grab one of those small pumpkins, usually labeled “pie pumpkins,” so you can’t miss it (and if you have, just ask); the jack-o-lantern Halloween ones tend to be tougher and stringier. Then all you need’s an oven, a blending device (food processor, blender, potato masher even), and some water. Oh, and a knife. But I promise, that’s it.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut pumpkin in half from head to toe and scoop out the seeds. You can save them to make pepitas* later, unless, like a certain twelve year old girl I know, you find such a prospect disgusting. Also weird. You want to get the stringy guts out, too, but don’t worry about being perfectly thorough.
Roast the pumpkin halves — skin up or down, doesn’t matter — for 45 minutes, until the flesh is fork tender.
Scrape pumpkin flesh away from the skin. Buzz the flesh in your food processor (or other mashing device) until smooth. Depending on the pumpkin and whether Saturn is in the third house, you may need to add a couple tablespoons of water to thin and smooth it out.
One 15 ounce can of storebought pumpkin puree equals about two cups of the homemade stuff.
I like to store the leftovers by the single cupful in ziplock baggies in the freezer. (If ya put a cup in each baggie, you’ll know exactly how much you have at a glance!) To thaw, leave in the fridge overnight or run under warm water.
Rinse pumpkin seeds clean and separate from the clingy stringy bits. Lay on a cookie sheet in a single layer and let dry overnight. Drizzle on some olive oil and salt, and stir around to distribute evenly. Bake in a 250 degree oven for an hour, until golden brown. Cool and eat!