Pumpkin pie filling from scratch

How to prepare a fresh pumpkin for pumpkin pie filling.

You can use a pie pumpkin to prepare your own fresh pumpkin puree. It is not recommended to use a Jack-O-Lantern type of pumpkin as they are not as sweet and have more water content.

Before cooking the pumpkin, remove the stem and top with a sharp knife. Scrap the stringy mass and seeds. Now you are ready to cook it!

Cook the pumpkin by any of the following methods. Boiling/Steaming method: Cut the pumpkin into rather large chunks. Rinse in cold water. Place pieces in a large pan with about a cup of water. Cover the pan and boil for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender or steam for 10 to 20 minutes. Check for doneness by poking with a fork. The pumpkin should be tender and easy to pierce. Drain the cooked pumpkin in a colander. The liquid can be saved to use as a base for soup.

Oven method: Cut pumpkin in half. Rinse under cold water. Place the pumpkin on a large cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. for one hour or until fork tender.

Microwave method: Cut the pumpkin in half. Place cut side down on a microwave safe plate or tray. Microwave on high for 10 to 15 minutes, checking for doneness until fork tender.

Remove the rind of the pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin into small chunks and place in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Put the puree through a fine strainer to remove any strings. Cool. To drain the puree, line a large strainer with a flattened out coffee filter or a double thickness of cheesecloth. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the puree and place in the refrigerator overnight. Once this is done, you can use it in recipes immediately or it can be frozen. Michigan State University Extension recommends packing it into containers, leaving half an inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze (keeps up to 6 months) to use in recipes later. If it seems watery before or after freezing, drain it again in a strainer to remove excel liquid.

Did you know you can substitute Hubbard squash or an acorn squash for pumpkin in a pumpkin pie? Simply substitute the cooked and pureed squash for pumpkin in your recipe.

Now that your pumpkin is pureed, you can substitute it for canned pumpkin in any pumpkin pie recipe. Remember to refrigerate pumpkin pie after it is prepared as it has eggs and milk in the filling!

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