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Guest Post: Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree

Guest Post by Katie from Frugal Femina

Did you panic when you heard there might be a pumpkin shortage? My stores have plenty, but the rumors made me wonder what I would do in a pinch. At first I thought, "I can live without pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving."

Then someone posted on Twitter about making their own pie filling from a real, live pumpkin {gasp!}. So I thought I'd give it a try. You know what? It's easy to do, and your kiddos will love scooping out the seeds. Check out these tips.

Pie pumpkins are smaller than the kind you might use for carving–usually about 6-8 inches each. Walmart sells them for $0.78/lb. I got them for $3/pumpkin at a pumpkin farm. I got 5, because pumpkins are about 90% water, and I wanted to make sure I had enough.

I ended up with so much puree I had to freeze some in a plastic container. I love pumpkin, though, and will definitely put it to good use!

Here's how I turned the pumpkins from the pumpkin farm into pumpkin puree:

When I got home, I washed the pumpkin with plain water.

Then I cut off the stem.

Next, I cut the pumpkin in half with a large, serrated knife. I'm told
you're less likely to slip and cut yourself with a serrated knife. I
would much rather eat pumpkin than go to the ER. How 'bout you?

I scooped out the seeds/strings with an ice cream scoop. You can save the seeds to roast or plant next year. We did both.

I put the pumpkin halves in a dish with a couple of inches of water. I
didn't have a deep enough dish with a lid, so I just covered them with
a dish towel and  microwaved them for 30 minutes. You can cook them in
the oven, but it takes a little longer.

The skin slid right off the pumpkin once it was cooked through.

Next, I pureed it in the food processor until it was smooth. It took a
minute or two. You'll want to drain off any free-standing water.
And now you're ready to bake!

I ended up making:

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin Coconut Bread

THE Pumpkin Dessert

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls (I served these with Cinnamon Honey Spread–1/2 cup softened butter or margarine blended with 1 cup powdered sugar,
1/4 cup honey, and
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.)

Want more tips? Check out It's my favorite resource for all things preserving.

Katie is a pastor's wife, a stay-at-home mama of one little munchkin,
and a part-time nursing student. Her family lives in a little cabin on
a farm in Kentucky. Katie has been blogging since 2005, and she shares
fun and thrifty talk for a well-managed home at her latest project, Frugal Femina.

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  • Bethany says:

    I have never tried it with pumpkins – but with winter squash I bake them whole at a hot temperature (usually while something else is cooking) for 15-20 BEFORE cutting them in half. It softens the outside shell just enough that you can cut right through it easily! one of the best tips I have ever read 🙂

  • Susan says:

    Yummy! Thank you so much….I’m hoping they will be on sales after Halloween – do you think they will?

  • leighann says:

    I made my own pumpkin puree for the first time today. I had tons of pie pumpkins left over from my son’s “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” birthday party! I cut mine in half, scooped out the seeds, brushed with butter, and baked cut side down on a baking sheet for 45 minutes. Then I used the puree to make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, delicious! I also have plenty of pumpkin puree to freeze and share. This is easy and frugal since I already have the pumpkins!

  • kathi says:

    For those who are homeschooling or just want a fun little project w/ your kids, when I was teaching in ps I grew a pumpkin plant in a 5 gallon bucket in my classroom. I planted mine so that the pumpkins would likely ripen mid-October (obviously too late for that now) but it was a fun “indoor plant” because we had the room…

  • Julie Finch says:

    Thanks for posting this! I was just wondering how to do this!

  • Lisa says:

    This was how we always made pumpkin pie when I was growing (minus the microwave). I don’t think I even knew you could get pumpkin in a can until I was a teenager!

  • Lucky says:

    For anyone who shops at Harris Teeter pie pumpkins are on sale 2/$3. I usually get about 3 C of puree from each pumpkin, so this is a real money saver.

  • Jessica says:

    Just a quick tip… Sometimes the seeds you save for the next year can be very unreliable in growing. To many variables including some of mine this year that sprouted while still in the pumpkin. If you order seeds from a good quality online company, my favorite being you can buy a small sample package for about $2.50. May sound expensive but I planted two sample packs (Cinderella and Fairytale, two delicious pie variates) and harvested OVER thirty pumpkins per package. Each pumpkin weighed aprox 5-15 pounds making the pumpkin less then a cent a pound.

  • Kristin says:

    I grow pumpkins in my garden and freeze a bunch of pumpkin puree every year. Once you try it, you’ll never go back! I can’t imagine buying pumpkin at the store anymore.

    One thing I notice, my pumpkin puree isn’t quite as orange as canned pumpkin from the store. It all depends on what variety of pumpkin you use but, still, this can be disconcerting at first…especially if you have picky eaters who expect things to look a certain way. Still, once they try it, they will love it. My pumpkin puree is so good I can eat it by the spoonful!

    One other thing I do with pumpkin puree: make pumpkin butter. It is delicious and makes an excellent addition to holiday gift baskets.

  • Terrific post. I had know idea it was as easy as all that. We have had a pureed pumpkin shortage here in Maine. I usually received a pie instead of a cake for my birthday but this year there’s no puree to be found. I’m encouraged to visit the farm stand I barter field space with to freeze some up. Thank you so much!

  • Great tips, Katie. I still have one bag of pumpkin puree in my freezer from last fall. Hope to swipe everyone’s pumpkins after Thanksgiving and make some more.

  • Elizabeth says:

    That sounds good. When I have traveled to other countries I was surprised that many people eat this much like we do squash it is wonderful. I have no idea perhaps people do that in the US as well.

  • Awesome post!! I am looking forward to making my own puree this year instead of buying the Libby’s Canned stuff. Now I won’t look like a bumbling fool trying to make it 🙂

  • Esther says:

    I want to try this! You make it sound so easy to do…the pics are helpful. 🙂

  • Betsy Negley says:

    You can pick the seeds out of the pulp and use it in your puree too. It adds texture and flavor.

  • Coby says:

    You can also cook them before cleaning in the microwave by stabbing a few holes in them and microwaving for about 20 minutes depending on the size. Then cool until you can handle, cut in half, scoop out seeds, then scoop out pumpkin. I do this with all my squash.

  • Alea Wassmuth says:

    I’m glad you posted this. I do this every year (with home-grown pumpkins) and never buy canned pumpkin! If you’re short on pumpkins, you can even use the back your kid’s jack-o-lanterns – as long as you get to them within a day or 2.

  • Kristine says:

    Ok, that looks SO easy… I never would have wanted to do it except that I cannot find pumpkin (even now that we’re in season!) in my Publix stores. With the abundance of pumpkins, I think I have to try this!

  • Nancy says:

    Thank you for this post! I purchased a pumpkin 2 days ago as I was given a recipe for pumpkin pound cake that I want to try. I have never cooked a pumpkin before….

  • Sandra says:

    how much puree did you get from one pumpkin?

  • Heather says:

    Thanks for the awesome article, i’m inspired and can’t wait to try this. I’m ready for some pumpkin soup mmmm.

  • Colleen Coberley says:

    This is how I cook spaghetti squash!

  • Sara says:

    Hi! I do this too. I have one more tip. Use a fork to scrape the seeds away from the strings out of the pumpkin. Then scoop out the strings. This way the seeds are already separated for rinsing and roasting or planting. You can throw away or compost the strings. It is much easier and less messy this way than separating the two after they are out of the pumpkin. Also I found last year that the roasted seeds are best straight from the oven, so maybe save that step for a nice lazy afternoon of Saturday college football! 🙂

  • Sara says:

    Oh hey! One more thought. Definitely only freeze leftovers. Everything I read last year said that pumpkins do not have enough acid to attempt home canning. You can add a little lemon juice to preserve color.

  • Teresa says:

    Has anyone ever tried doing this with a regular carving pumpkin instead of a pie pumpkin? If so, how were the results?

  • Stepheni says:

    Thanks for the recipes! I just made the pumpkin cookies and my daughter and I loved them! I made cream cheese frosting with them and they are awesome! Thanks!

  • Heather D. says:

    My daughter will just be starting on solid foods around Thanksgiving. I think she’ll get to have some pumkin (puree) for Thanksgiving like everyone else! Great post!

  • Suzette says:

    On the Rachael Ray show yesterday her guest showed how to make chocolate pie with pumpkin pie filling. She took a boxed cake mix and substituted pumpkin pie filling for the eggs and oil. “Lisa points out that many cake mixes call for 3 eggs and half a cup of oil, which can add 1,190 calories and 125 grams of fat! “Using nothing but the cake mix and a can of pumpkin, you’re only adding 145 calories and 1 gram of fat,” Lisa says. “You don’t even taste the pumpkin.””

  • Great Post Katie! Thanks for sharing. I had no idea you could microwave pumpkins like that. 🙂

  • Lizzie says:

    You need to read my cheat from Works for me on Wed;)!

    Easier than cutting them in 1/2

  • Thank you for the post and awesome pictures. It looks sooooo good.

  • Katie says:

    Such great timing! Its like you read my mind!! I bought a pie pumpkin a couple days ago and have been meaning to google how to use it! Thank you!!

  • Green Bean says:

    Gotta love making your own pumpkin puree. It’s cheaper, healthier and tastes better!

  • Jen B says:

    I never realized how simple it is. Thans for posting. I think I’m gonna try it.

  • Jenelle says:

    I used Jack O Lantern pumpkins this year since we have too many of them–lots of fieldtrips to the patch! They taste the same, but are a bit stringy. We could tell in the pumpkin oatmeal, but the muffins and bread and cookies were fine!

  • Rae says:

    Thank you so much for the info. I definitely want to try this this year. And also get around to those sweet pumpkin seeds that you posted last year that I never got around to making. Thanks to everybody who contributed through comments too, it’s been so helpful 🙂

    I don’t know if we have a shortage here, I actually found 2 big cans on the markdown shelf at Kroger for $.89 each which seemed like a good price (haven’t bought canned pumpkin in a few years)

  • Becky says:

    They’re not quite the same, but the carving pumpkins go on sale at Walmart for $1 each the day after Halloween. And yes, you can bottle them, if you use a pressure canner. I bought four last year, plus had some we were given, and got seventy quarts from them. We’ve been using them all year, and it’s been great.

  • Stephanie says:

    I bought 4 pumpkins and am planning on making my own puree. This is a beautiful tutorial! Thank you!

  • LIz says:

    Thanks, I did this today with some help from my little ones, and then made the pumpkin cookies, simple, yummy, and frugal, I love it!

  • I did this for the first time this year and I was so amazed at how easy it was, and how much better everything tasted. I do not think I will be going back to canned pumpkins any time soon.

  • Thanks for the comments, everyone. I loved reading all the tips!

  • Gail says:

    You all must, must, must try these wonderful mini pumpkin pie bites! Easy, cute as can be, and a perfect Halloween or Thanksgiving treat (freeze ’em if you think you can wait that long!) These are made with pre-made pie crusts and canned pumpkin , but you can use your own puree and pie crusts. You all will love Bakerella’s site. So many fabulous treats for all occasions. Check them out when you have some time to spare (and bake!)

  • Felicia says:

    After reading about the shortage I checked my normal grocery store and I wasn’t able to find pumpkin (I’m in South Mississippi) so I made my own pumpkin puree for the first time last week. I used the recipe on which calls for roasting the pumpkin. It was a little time consuming but totally worth it. I did have a problem getting the skin off after cooking so I might peel them before cooking next time.

  • Christina says:

    Great timing! I bought two pie pumpkins at my farmer’s market for $1.29 each (probably about 7″ diameter). The first one, I tried to cube while raw and then steam and puree it . . . I got one cup pureee. I used this method (but baked at 350 for 45 minutes instead of microwaving) and got SIX cups puree from the second!

    Suzette, I do something similar. I add pumpkin puree (and a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg) but nothing else to boxed yellow cake mix, then bake in muffin pans. The recipe I found called them muffins, but they easily pass as cupcakes! Sometimes I add chocolate chips, and we all eat them up.

  • Samantha says:

    Thank you SO much for posting this! I have always wanted to try to do this and never have for some reason! I have my pumpkin in the microwave right now and I am so excited to see how it turns out!!

  • Rochelle says:

    Love your FIESTA bowl!

  • Samantha says:

    I made the pumpkin cookies from the post today and they turned out so good! I wrote about them here:

    Thanks again for posting this article! I am hooked on fresh pumpkin now!

  • Thanks, Rochelle! I’m totally hooked on Fiesta! 🙂

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