Kick the Can[ned Pumpkin]

I can’t remember the last time I bought a can of food. When we went plastic-free in 2011, we ditched all canned food. Cans are lined with plastic that often contains BPA, which according to the Environmental Working Group, “is a synthetic estrogen that scientists have linked to breast cancer, reproductive damage, developmental problems, heart disease and other illnesses.” Some cans emblazoned with the claim “BPA-Free” across them contain BPS instead, which is no better.

Yes, preparing pumpkin puree from scratch requires more work than opening a can but fresh pumpkin puree tastes delicious, you get some yummy by-products out of your pumpkin and you don’t have to worry about exposing your family to nasty chemicals (assuming you choose an organic pumpkin…).

Pumpkin Puree

Ingredients
  • 1 sugar pie pumpkin
Directions

Basically, you stab a pumpkin a few times, bake it for about 45 minutes and run the flesh through a food mill.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Stab the top of the pumpkin several times so it doesn’t explode in the oven. Place it on a dish and bake for about 45 minutes or until you can easily slide a knife into it. If you bake it too long, you’ll find hard spots. This has happened to me a couple of times. I thought the pumpkin just needed more time in the oven and left it in there, making matters worse. So keep an eye on it.

my little pumpkin
Pumpkin ready for the oven

You’ll notice its glossy surface and darker color when it’s ready. It kind of looks like it oiled itself up and spent the afternoon at the beach.

baked pumpkin
Baked pumpkin

2. Remove the top and scoop out the seeds. Set the seeds aside for roasting later.

scoop seeds

3. Halve the pumpkin and scrape out the stringy bits. I ate some of these as I scraped away (I was hungry) and composted the rest.

halve pumpkin

4. You can either scoop out the flesh with a big spoon or cut the pumpkin up, peel off the skin and cube it. The skin comes off a baked pumpkin very easily. I opted for peeling and cubing. Set the skin aside for roasting.

remove skin

5. Run the pumpkin through a food mill. If you don’t have a food mill, you could try a potato masher, blender or food processor. Initially my food mill proved very tedious because I didn’t realize I had used the disk with the smallest holes. I switched to the disk with the larger holes (see below) and made quick work of the pumpkin.

food mill

food mill large disc
Disk with large holes

6. Voila. Your puree is ready. My pumpkin rendered about 4 cups of puree, which I decided to pack into wide-mouth jars for the freezer. I left over an inch of head space at the top to prevent broken jars. Every time I post pics of jars in the freezer on social media, people ask me about breakage. I have had only one mishap when I put liquid in a narrow-neck bottle in the freezer. The liquid froze, expanded and cracked the top of the (very nice) bottle cleanly off. Oops. Now I used only wide-mouth jars in there.

pumpkin puree

eat the whole pumpkinEating a Pumpkin Nose to Tail

In the pic above, you’ll also notice roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin skin. I had never roasted the skins before and they tasted surprisingly delicious, kind of like pumpkin chips! I would not eat the skins if you use a pesticide pumpkin (I refuse to call food conventional that has been sprayed with poisons).

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Spices if desired (I sprinkled these with a bit of cayenne)
Directions

Remove as many pumpkin chunks as you can from the seeds. Toss pumpkin seeds, olive oil, salt and spices if using. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet or glass tray. Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 or 30 minutes until golden and crunchy.

Roasted Pumpkin Skin

Ingredients
  • Pumpkin skin in 2- to 3-inch size pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Directions

Toss pumpkin skin, olive oil and salt. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet or glass tray. Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes until somewhat shriveled and crispy. Keep and eye on these. They can burn easily in the last couple of minutes.

24 Comment

  1. Michelle Snarr says: Reply

    I never thought about eating the skin – I will have to try that

    1. It was really good! And since I always roast the seeds anyway, it was convenient to do them both at the same time.

  2. I cut my pumpkins in half before roasting. A friend taught me a trick of scooping out all the guts and putting them in a bowl of water. After sitting for a bit, the seeds rise, making it quicker to remove them from the strings. I let them dry before roasting them. I found a method of tossing them in melted butter and olive oil on the stove top before spreading them out on a pan to roast at a low temp (I think 250) for twenty minutes. Since I’ve adopted that method, I no longer over cook the seeds, which frequently happened with other methods. I pack my pumpkin in 2 cup portions – about the size of a can and in the quantity most called for in recipes.

    1. Thanks for all this info Becky. I’ll try soaking the guts next time. I sometimes over roast the seeds too, and butter with olive oil sounds delicious. I need to buy a couple more pumpkins this weekend 😉

    2. Oooh really Becky?! I find the stings really tiresome! I will try this!

    3. Oooh Becky thanks for the tip! I find the stringy bits really tiresome to remove, but I love eating the seeds. Will try this : )

  3. Apart from the cans, pumpkin in cans has a horrible texture. I never thought of using the skins though – great idea!

    1. You’re right Hilda. Makes you wonder what they factory does to the pumpkin! The skins are really good. You have to eat them right away though (I forgot to mention that) but it’s not much of a problem to gobble them up 😉

  4. I have never had pumpkin skin chips! what a great idea!

  5. I’ll have to try the pumpkin skins. I use an immersion blender to puree my pumpkin and then dehydrate it in 2 cup portions. Stored in zip lock bags, they take up almost no space and rehydrate in minutes. (Add hot or warm water to fill 2 cups, mix through with immersion blender)

    1. Thanks for the info on the immersion blender Olivia. I haven’t actually used it for puree (as far as I recall), but I figured it would work. Good to know.

      How do you dehydrate your pureed pumpkin?

  6. There’s nothing better than fresh roasted pumpkin puree!

    1. I agree Karen. It’s worth the extra effort.

  7. Thank you for posting all this in the depth of autumn and in the time that… unfortunately… thousands of people will use pumpkins for non-food purposes. We had a pumpkin-themed food making party last year instead of pumpkin-carving, and everyone went home with some pumpkin puree, which can be used in lots of different recipes. One of my favourites are these delicious lovelies: http://mywholefoodlife.com/2014/09/27/flourless-chocolate-pumpkin-cookies/#S6zYTvPc4ohjASfA.32
    I wouldn’t say they are zero-waste, as I haven’t been able to locate bulk maple syrup, but it’s a good start and we used our fresh puree. Delicious.

    1. All that pumpkin food waste bothers me too Nadine. What a great idea that was to have a pumpkin food party. Brilliant! Why not take home food instead of wasting a bunch of it? OMG those flourless chocolate pumpkin cookies look so good! Thanks for sharing that link. I haven’t found bulk maple syrup either but I reuse the glass bottles that I buy mine in. My sister makes maple syrup but she’s in Canada and I’m in California, so that’s not much help.

  8. Have you tried roasting the seeds for other kinds of squash? I never have but I can’t see why not.

    1. I sure have Sarah and they taste delicious! Thank you for pointing that out. I forgot to mention it in the post 🙂

  9. I truly enjoy your blog. You are such an inspiration. Loved the apple post, too.

    1. Thanks so much for that Judy and for reading and commenting 🙂

  10. Thank you! I have a pumpkin sitting on my counter that I’ve been eyeing up for a couple of weeks now. I want to use it up but it was an intimidating prospect… until now! I love your blog so much.

    1. Thanks so much for that. I’m glad you found the post useful. Enjoy your pumpkin 🙂

  11. […] Source: The Zero Waste Chef […]

  12. […] intriguing article by The Zero-Waste Chef alerted me to the fact that sugar pie pumpkins can be eaten in their entirety – well, mostly, […]

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