Pumpkin, oh pumpkin; how I love thee. Bars, soups, pie – you name it. If it’s got pumpkin in it, I’m making it. And eating it.
I’ve often wondered about pumpkin, though. As I stand in line at the grocery store, my cart full of cans of the beloved orange fall vegetable, I ponder. How easy is it to cook a pumpkin myself and make pumpkin puree? And would the outcome be any different?
I decided to test it out, and I have results to share. So grab that PSL (homemade, of course) and sit back. And let’s talk pumpkin.
Roasting a Pumpkin in the Oven
This is probably the most common method you’ll find. People will vary with their temps, but 400 degrees worked perfectly for me. First things first, make sure that you get a “pie” pumpkin. Yeah – the jack-o-lantern size is just not gonna do it for you. For one thing, it’ll be a royal pain to try to cut through. And next, the taste will differ from the little ones. Just trust me on this one. Here are the steps to roasting a pumpkin in the oven (which also works for acorn or butternut squash).
- Wash and dry pumpkin. I always use my Branch Basics for this.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put parchment paper on a roasting pan.
- Slice off the top of the pumpkin, including the stem. Cut pumpkin in half.
- Using a large spoon or an ice cream scooper, remove the flesh and seeds.
- Place pumpkin (flat side) down on the parchment paper.
- Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven. The skin will look somewhat wrinkly when it’s ready to be removed and you’ll be able to easily pierce it with a fork.
- Let it cool before peeling off the skin and removing flesh.
- Place pumpkin flesh in a food processor or a high speed blender. Puree until smooth.
I read about others using a cheesecloth to strain the water at this point; this is optional and a step that I did not do.
Cooking a Pumpkin in an Instant Pot
Never heard of an Instant Pot? Ooooh – let me tell you about it. It’s a seven-in-one multi-cooker that works as an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, warmer and sauté pan . Since I’m pretty much a newbie with the Instant Pot, I joined a Facebook group. And it was in there that I saw someone mentioned cooking a squash in the pressure cooker in no time at all. So why not pumpkin, I thought?!
I popped my pie pumpkin into my Instant Pot on the rack and added a cup of water. I set the manual setting to 13 minutes, and sealed the lid. And waited. After letting it cool down and release (the air pressure) for 10 minutes, I was ready to see my creation: a beautiful soft (and still hot) pumpkin, ready to be peeled.
I let it cool for another 15 minutes before slicing into it; I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I then took a large tablespoon (from my utensils) and scooped out the seeds and the flesh. Of course I saved these for roasting later on in the afternoon. Same as above, I peeled the skin and placed the flesh into my blender to puree. Beautiful.
There are pros and cons to cooking a pumpkin. I’ve listed them below:
- The taste is way better with a “real” pumpkin vs. canned. No joke.
- Cooking it in the Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker) is simple. Like, really simple. Roasting is really not bad, either. It’s totally doable!
- Opening a can is simple. Like – even simpler than cooking in the Instant Pot:).
- The cost: I bought my pie pumpkins on sale for $3.49. And they were organic. I can get organic cans of pumpkin from Trader Joes for around $1.79. So it’s definitely cheaper to get the can (unfortunately).
So there you have it. I am really glad that I tried cooking a pumpkin and hope that you do, too. My guess is that I’ll do both methods in the future. I’m sure I’ll cook pumpkins, but purchase canned in a pinch. If you’ve tried making puree, I’d love to hear about your experience. If you haven’t, please share your favorite pumpkin recipe in the comments below. Because I now have 6 cups of pumpkin to use!