As I was wrestling with this pumpkin, trying to cut through it — all the while thinking of several people who have commented that they enjoy winter squash recipes, except for the not-so-small detail of cutting them! — I stopped. Why not try to bake the whole pumpkin and cut it once soft?
By this point, I had managed a slit which was about four or five inches long down one side of the pumpkin. I figured that would be enough to allow any built-up steam to escape, avoiding a popping pumpkin in my oven!
The results were fantastic; the seeds scooped right out and the skin pulled off easily. A quick puree in the food processor and I had three pounds of bright orange, fresh puree. The hardest part was deciding whether to make our favorite pumpkin muffins, pancakes, or baked oatmeal first!
My 4 3/4 pound pumpkin yielded 3 pounds of fresh puree.
- 1 sugar or Cinderella pumpkin or other variety suitable for cooking
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Wash the pumpkin and make a long slit in the side of the pumpkin with a knife. This will allow the steam to escape.
- Place the pumpkin on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 15–30 minutes. Cooking time will vary based on size of pumpkin and starting temperature. (If your pumpkin has been sitting outside and is very cold, for example, it will take a little longer.) Test with a knife. When inserted, the pumpkin should feel like a baked potato. If it is still firm, bake longer and continue to check every 10 minutes or so.
- Once tender, remove from oven and allow to cool until you can touch comfortably. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and reserve for later roasting, if desired. Peel the skin away from the flesh (I find it easiest to do with my fingers), and place the flesh in the bowl of your food processor. Processing in two batches works well.
- Process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Transfer to containers and refrigerate for about a week or freeze.