unsweetened pumpkin puree

© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk

Ahhh Autumn. The pumpking harvest. Such orange joy.

Nick loves growing giant pumpkins. I favour small pumpkins I can do stuff with (eat) other than stare at in bewilderment and fear. This year in the final throes of our allotmenting, we semi-compromised and planted a giant amount of edible pumpkins. The harvest came in last week and, contrary to my hopes, I stared at in in bewilderment and fear. 65. 65 pumpkins. Sixty. Five.

© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk

We carved two, gave away one (so far), made pumpkin pies, pumpkin curry and Moroccan couscous with several, and the rest are currently storing. Luckily many of them are small enough to eat in two meals between the two of us. Pumpkin pies and cakes are a great use for pumpkins at the moment, evoking the autumnal snuggly warmth I've been anticipating, and you can get through a fair amount of pumpkin in this way.

Pumpkin puree is intermittently difficult (and always expensive) to get hold of in the UK, here are some very simple guidelines detailing how I made puree with one of our larger pumpkins. The benefit is that this puree is totally unsweetened, unlike the canned varieties, making this a healthier alternative as you are in full control of the sugar in your bakes. I used a "crown prince" pumpkin for this, any pumpkin will work though, as will butternut squash, but the nuttier and more flavoursome the pumpkin, the richer and more flavoursome the puree will be. I prefer to stay away from more watery pumpkins which I worry will produce too watery a puree.

© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk

Lydia's Unsweetened Pumpkin Puree - guidelines

Pumpkin (mine weighed just under 2½ kg)

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, Gas Mark 6). 

Chop the pumpkin into even sized chunks (or even thickness slices), about 1 inch thick. You don't need to remove the skin at this stage (but do remove the seeds!)

Bake at 200°for 30 minutes before decreasing the temperature to 150°C (300°F, Gas Mark 2) for a further 30 minutes. 

Keep an eye on the pumpkin and if it's drying out, put some boiling water in a tray in the bottom of the oven. This is most likely with electric and fan ovens.

When the pumpkin is done, you'll be able to pass a blunt knife through the chunks quite easily. 

Allow to cool completely, remove the skins and blend in a food processor adding water bit by bit to achieve a thick consistency that totally holds its own. I ended up adding about half a litre of water in total, but this will vary depending on what variety of pumpkin you used and how much it dried out in the oven. 

© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk

I had to process in several batches and several times, which was a total pain in the arse. The result was still a tiny bit lumpy but that's fine for me. I ended up with 1140g of puree, equivalent to about 3 cans of shop bought stuff. Admittedly I was not expecting to get so much puree from this pumpkin, next time I'll definitely only use half. It'll store happily in the fridge in a clean jar for just over a week. You could also freeze it in cubes, but may find that it separates on defrosting - mixing it well after defrosting may help it come together again.

© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk

I'm currently working on a super-awesome pumpkin cake with honeycomb frosting using this puree of awesomeness, watch this space!

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