Have you heard the bad news? Due to the massive amount of rainfall this spring in the Midwest, there is a pumpkin shortage. That’s right. You better head to your local store and grab that last can of Libby’s before it is all sold out! But if you have some small pumpkins leftover from Halloween, this Homemade Pumpkin Puree is easy to whip up!
Random fact #1: Illinois produces 90% of American grown pumpkins.
Random fact #2: In June, Illinois had the second largest monthly precipitation total on record, beaten only by the total from September 1926.
Random fact #3: The saturated soil prevents oxygen from reaching the root system and crop yields were cut in half leading to a nationwide shortage of canned pumpkin.
If you can get to a local pumpkin patch, you can easily make your own pumpkin puree and support local agriculture in the process.
First, you want to pick smaller pumpkins as they tend to be sweeter and less fibrous. If the pumpkin would make a good jack-o-lantern it is too big.
Once your pumpkins are home preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the stem from the pumpkin and cut the pumpkins in half. Remove the interior fibrous tissue and seeds (put the seeds aside so you can roast them later.)
Grab a cookie sheet and grease it up a little bit with a spray or lightly applied oil. Place the pumpkins with the flat side down on the cookie sheet. Throw it in the oven and let it cook for about an hour.
Let the pumpkin cool before you handle it. Some pumpkins have skin that is thick enough to just lift off while leaving behind the pumpkin flesh. If the skin does not easily come off, you can lightly scrape out the flesh with a spoon.
Once your pumpkin flesh is separated place it in a food processor and puree it.
At this point it will have a lot of excess water in it. Place the puree into some cheesecloth and tie it off. You can now squeeze out the excess water. Suspend the ball of pumpkin over a bowl and let it sit overnight to drain more completely.
You can save the water you collect from this process and use it as sort of a pumpkin stock to add a little flavor to your fall dishes.
Remove the puree from the cheesecloth and place in a Ziploc bag. If you are going to use it within the next few days it can rest in the refrigerator. If not, place it in the freezer for long term storage. You will add the spices when it’s time to create your baked goods.
We freeze ours and take it out right before Thanksgiving to make pumpkin pie! Canned pumpkin has nothing on this fresh homemade pumpkin puree!