This is the first year that I haven't grown sugar pie pumpkins mainly because I didn't get the garden area ready for planting early enough this year. I love planting sugar pie pumpkins because it's relatively effortless and you get so much food out of it.
Fortunately for me, our grocery store stocks locally grown sugar pie pumpkins and I usually buy additional pumpkins for processing to have pumpkin puree on hand for the rest of the year since we tend to eat a lot of it. Between the pumpkin pies, scones, breads and cookies, it always gets used up.
This week our favorite grocery store is carrying the pumpkins and selling them 4 for $5 (Ballard and Greenwood Markets if you live in the area). And since each pumpkin tends to result in the equivalent of about two cans of pumpkin puree, it ends up being quite inexpensive. Sure, there's labor and energy involved in processing them, but I enjoy it and it tastes sooo much better than canned.
So, if you like pumpkin treats, I highly recommend getting some sugar pie pumpkins this year and processing them. You can freeze the puree (measure out in 2 cup increments to equal about one can) or, if you have a pressure canner, you can can the puree (although some still warn against canning pumpkin puree even with a pressure canner).
For the puree, I cut the pumpkins in half horizontally, scoop out the seeds and stringy matter and rub the cut sides with oil. I then placed them face down in roasting pans with one cup of water each and bake them at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes. Once they are cool, I scoop out the flesh and put it in the food processor until it is pureed.
As a final step, I lay down cheesecloth (or a clean kitchen towel) in a colander, add the puree and let it "drip dry" for about an hour and then squeeze out the remaining liquids until it has the consistency of canned pumpkin puree.
Finally, don't neglect the seeds. They are rich in fiber as well as vitamins B and E and make a great snack. You can roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt or get fancy and use a chili rub or other seasoning you have on hand. Roast for 40 minutes in a 325 degree oven, stirring occasionally.
Do you make your own pumpkin puree or do you just rely on canned for your recipes that call for pumpkin?
Note: If you are doing the Buy Hand for the Holidays Challenge, giving away homemade mini loaves of pumpkin bread or scones make for a great gift. If you like the pumpkin scones sold at Starbucks, here's a recipe for making them yourselves. So, now is a good time to freeze a bunch of pumpkin puree for your pumpkin-based food gifts.