Sure, canned pumpkin is super-convenient, great for a quick batch of pancakes, a pot of soup or a smoothie. But if you plan to use pumpkin in your holiday baking this season, consider making your own. It’s so simple (I promise!), and there are some big advantages, too.
How to make it
Start with a 4- to 5-lb. sugar pie pumpkin. Cut off stem; cut pumpkin in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Cut each half into evenly sized slices, about 1/2 –inch thick. Fill a large pot with a couple of inches of water and bring it to a boil. Put a steamer basket on top. Add the pumpkin slices to the steamer basket; cover and steam for 20 minutes. Use a spoon to carefully remove flesh from peel. Put the flesh into a blender or food processor and blend until pureed. Check out this 60-second video tutorial.
- It’s tastier
No surprise there; most foods taste better fresh than out of a can. Cans sometimes impart a tinny flavor, and the fresh stuff tastes brighter and pumpkin-ier.
- It’s more vibrant
The bright orange color you get from homemade pumpkin puree makes canned, well, pale in comparison (sorry).
- Avoid BPA
Most canned foods contain bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor associated with hypertension and other health problems. Yes, there are BPA-free cans, but the chemicals commonly used in them, such as bisphenol S (BPS), may not be any safer. Your best bet: Avoid cans when possible.
- Bragging rights
When you bring that pie or cheesecake to the table, you can shrug and say, “Yeah, I even made my own pumpkin puree, NBD.” Feels good, doesn’t it?
How to use it
Use your homemade puree anywhere you would use canned pumpkin, such as pies, sauces, and desserts. But it doesn’t stop there. I’ve found even more uses for it, like adding it to curry, turning it into pasta sauce, and sneaking it into breakfast bowls. I love sautéing pumpkin puree simply with onion and chilies, then stuffing it in an organic sprouted corn tortilla for a vegan quesadilla (inspired by my fave L.A. restaurant, Gracias Madre).
Be sure to purchase sugar pie pumpkins, not the huge decorative ones. Sugar pie pumpkins aren’t actually very sweet, but they are intended for and better suited to cooking.