Quick and Easy Pumpkin Puree
Halloween is right around the corner, and it’s time for your annual visit to the pumpkin patch. You’ll tote your prized picks home, carve them up for the kids’ jack-o’-lanterns and display your glowing designs on the front doorstep. But after the pumpkins have been scraped, scooped and carved, what are you going to do with all those leftovers?
Last year we showed you how to make Microwave Pumpkin Seeds for a light snack after the holiday. Now, it’s a good thing you’ve got those Pyrex® mixing bowls in your cupboard, because they’re just what you need to mix up a quick batch of microwave pumpkin puree.
Take advantage of all the orange squash in stores this fall and turn them into simple homemade puree with this easy made-in-the-microwave recipe. Then, use your DIY puree as a base for everything from soup to pumpkin lattes. Here’s how:
HOW TO MAKE MICROWAVE PUMPKIN PUREE
Step 1: Pick Your Pumpkin
Picking a pumpkin for cooking is different that picking a pumpkin for carving. You don’t need to hunt down a perfectly round squash, like for jack-o’-lantern making, but following these easy tips will help you find a pumpkin worth picking.
- Select a ripe pumpkin. Pumpkins are ready to harvest when the vines dry up and the squashes have turned the expected color. Green vines are a sign of immaturity and those pumpkins should be left to ripen, since pumpkins picked too early will yield a batch of hard-to-prepare, untasty puree.
- Steer clear of soft spots. To ensure prime freshness, pick a firm fruit and leave pumpkins with bruises or nicks for carving instead of cooking. Dark bruises are often a sign that the pumpkin has started to rot inside, and even small slits can allow infection inside the squash—something you don’t want when preparing it for eating.
- Do a prick test. Press your fingernail on the outer rind of the pumpkin. Is it firm enough to withstand a gentle piercing? If so, it’s ready to pick. If not, allow it to ripen until the skin forms a sturdy outer shell.
- Hunt for the hollow. Knock on the outer rind of the pumpkin and listen for a hollow sound, then pick up the pumpkin and see how heavy it is. Looking for a heavy, hollow pumpkin is an easy way to find a squash with lots of flavorful meat (which will yield lots of delicious puree!).
Pumpkins come in dozens of varieties, and all are edible. But some breeds are better for cooking. For easy preparation and great flavor, hunt down these favorites: Sugar Pie or Pie Pumpkins, Cinderella, Baby Bear, Baby Pam, Red Kuri, Carnival or Sweet Dumpling. If purchasing from a local farm stand or market, be sure to ask the farmer which varieties they recommend. There are dozens worth trying!
Step 2: Prepare for Cooking
- Cut the pumpkin in half with a large, sharp knife.
- Scrape out all the fleshy insides using a spoon or ice cream scoop.
- Toss out the stringy mush that coats the inside surface, and set the seeds aside for roasting later.
Step 3: Soften the Squash
- Remove the stem and place your pumpkin halves in a PYREX® SMART ESSENTIALS® 4-QT GLASS MIXING BOWL W/ RED PLASTIC LID. (You may need to cut the pumpkin into four or eight pieces to fit.)
- Use your PYREX® 2 CUP MEASURING CUP to pour a couple inches of water in the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with microwavable plastic wrap and place it in the microwave.
- Microwave on High for 20 to 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, check to see if the pumpkin is soft, and repeat in smaller increments of time until it is soft enough to scoop the innards out.
Step 4: Make Puree
- When the cooked pumpkin has cooled, scrape out the soft guts by using a spoon to gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin.
- Use a food processor or blender to get a nice, smooth consistency.
- Voilà—you’re done! Now, you can use this delicious homemade puree in your favorite pumpkin recipes, or freeze it for later in a PYREX® SIMPLY STORE® 2-CUP ROUND DISH W/ RED PLASTIC COVER.
7 NEW WAYS TO USE YOUR PUMPKIN PUREE
Now that you have a batch of delicious homemade pumpkin puree, you can add it to your favorite pumpkin recipes—just swap it 1:1 into any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin puree, or try using it in one of these new ways. From tasty treats like lattes and Thai pumpkin soup, to face masks and dog food, your homemade puree is a surprisingly versatile ingredient! Here are 7 simple ways to spice up the season with pumpkin puree.
- Thai Pumpkin Soup: A delicious way to enjoy pumpkin puree is in a Spicy Thai Soup. Using just four main ingredients—red curry paste, broth, coconut milk and pumpkin puree—you’ll have a unique dish of tasty goodness. Add seasonings like fish sauce, sugar and lime juice to create a flavorful balance of sweet, salty and sour.
- Face Mask: Now here’s one you probably haven’t thought of—a pumpkin treatment for your skin! If you find yourself with leftover squash, treat yourself to an “at-home spa” by mixing puree, coconut milk solids and cinnamon for a body mask that will leave your skin smooth and glowing.
- Pumpkin Pie Smoothie: It’s like eating pumpkin pie for breakfast, only better! To make a pumpkin pie smoothie, just blend your fresh pumpkin puree with a banana, maple syrup, milk and fall spices (pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, cinnamon or allspice). Serve with a straw and enjoy!
- Pumpkin Butter: Whip pumpkin puree with sweet apple cider, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg for a mouthwatering batch of pumpkin butter. It makes an incredible spread for toast, crepes and bagels. Store in the PYREX® 4-LOCK™ 2 CUP RECTANGLE STORAGE W/ RED POPPY PLASTIC COVER, and homemade pumpkin butter will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a month.
- Pumpkin Spice Latte: Save a few bucks and be your own barista with a simple make-at-home pumpkin latte. In a PYREX® 4 CUP MEASURING CUP, whisk together a cup of coffee, a splash of cream, a scoop of pumpkin puree and a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Sweeten to taste and enjoy this scrumptious pick-me-up.
- Baby Food: Put a smile on your little one’s face with nutritious pumpkin baby food. When you
puree the pumpkin, add a little water or coconut milk to thin out the mixture. Add a little flavor to the puree by mixing in a dash of cinnamon, applesauce or peaches. Easy peasy!
- For the Dog: Whip up a batch of Chicken Liver and Pumpkin Ice Cream for a treat your pooch will love. Pumpkin puree is actually a great way to support canine digestion and keep your pups’ gut strong and healthy.
PEP UP YOUR PUMPKIN SEASON
- To best clean the pumpkin seeds before roasting, place them in a bowl of water and rub them between your hands. Then, pick out the orange pulp and drain the water. Spread them out on a clean towel, and you’re ready to roast!
- Turn your leftover gourd into a fun serving dish. Serve this mouthwatering Herbed Mac and Cheese Dish in a hollowed-out pumpkin, then top it off with your favorite fresh herbs.
- Use a small or miniature pumpkin as a candleholder. Remove the stem and place a votive candle where the stem used to be. If you have several pumpkins, try spreading them along your front sidewalk or porch for an inviting display.