How to Bake a Fresh Pumpkin (for pie, etc)

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This instructable will show you how to prepare and bake a fresh pumpkin for use in pies, breads, and other delectable treats. I'll add a separate instructable for how to actually make the pie and bread later, this is just preparing the pumpkin.

For this instructable, you'll want to use pie pumpkins. These are smaller and smoother than jack-o-lantern pumpkins and taste much better. Pie pumpkins are closer to the size of a small melon, like a honeydew.

2 pumpkins will provide enough baked pumpkin for a pie and a couple of small loaves of bread.

You'll also need:
  • A sharp, non-serrated knife
  • a cutting board
  • some tin-foil
  • a large pan for baking
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Step 1: Cleaning the Pumpkin

First, you'll want to wash any dirt off the outside of your pumpkin. No one wants to eat dirt.

Then, cut the pumpkin in half. I find it's easier to cut in a square around the stem and that weird spot on the base, since they're pretty woody areas. It's best to use a non-serrated knife for this, and to be careful. Make a lot of small short cuts rather than trying to go all the way through in one shot.

Once your cuts go all the way around, pry the pumpkin apart. If your cuts are clean enough, this will be easy, but if they're not, you may want to try putting one half on the counter, and leaning on the other half to let your weight do the work for you.

After you've separated your pumpkin halves, use a spoon to scrape out all the seeds and stringy stuff. I usually just throw all this away, but you can save the seeds for toasting if you like.

When you're done, you'll have two nice clean pumpkin halves. Making them this clean before baking saves some trouble after they've been baked and are soft and mushy.

Once its been mashed can it be put in the freezer?

desiree.rankin, Yes it can be frozen. I prefer Foodsaver Vacuum but any vacuum seal or zip lock bag will work.

I leave the pumpkins whole and take a knife and make a slit on two sides of each pumpkin and place on cookie sheets in oven at 325 degrees . When tender, I cool in oven and then just peel off the skin (put the seeds in a bowl to later rinse and bake with a little oil and salt) and take the meat of pumpkin and puree in a food processor and freeze unused portion in plastic bags. I have 13 pumpkins baking in my oven right now.

DukeL14 days ago

all pumpkins are squashes, but not all squashes are pumpkins;

Squash is a botanic term, while pumpkin is a culinary term ☺

dxf2245 years ago
Is a pie pumpkin just a small immature pumpkin ?
soundinnovation (author)  dxf2245 years ago
I'm not sure exactly. I think they're more like a different strain of pumpkin that is bred to be smaller and taste better, where as a jack-o-lantern pumpkin is bred to be larger. Kinda like super big watermelons vs small seedless watermelons.

They are called sugar pumpkins and I bought mine at Trader Joe's. I've also bought them at local farm stands.

ms match16 days ago

I have always put pumpkins in the pressure cooker ( my large 7 qt jar canner) for 5 min at 5 lb pressure, Just clean them out good, rinse and quarter. Sure beats baking for that length of time. When pressure drops to zero, remove pumpkins and scoop out meat and put in blender to purée, I make bags and bags to freeze.

What a Great Idea!! I'll have to try your method when I cook my sugar pumpkin next week. Thanks for posting your method.

kwhitacre15 days ago

I bake my acorn squash and learned 40 years ago that if I bake it in the oven for about half an hour it isn't so hard to cut nor too soft. I hold it with a potholder, slice it, deseed it; turn it upside down (helps keep it moist) and continue baking. Thank you for reminding me how good fresh pumpkin can be.

Though it seems like a great idea this is just another way of doing an otherwise useless task. When I was growing up, Mom would make pumpkin pie yearly and it came to the point 3 dozen pies at a time were being made. So, you need something like 2 large pumpkins, so we cut all the pumpkins into cubes, removed the outer shell in one slice per cube, easy, right?

Then we dropped all the cubes into a pressure cooker and add water and cook them for a short while, 30-45 minutes. Then mash the pumpkin and we were done.

Serves the same purpose but doesn't heat the whole house up or burn the outer parts of the pumpkin as you see in that one image.

But you end up with really watery, less flavourful pumpkin...

Oh, I don't disagree, straining the pumpkin a bit helps. I would always take some mash and a cheesecloth but careful not to remove too much water.

after baking pumpkin, how can I get them dark like Libby's canned pumpkin?

From what I've read, the canned pumpkin you buy is actually butternut squash, It starts out darker, and is probably cooked to a temperature high enough to carmelize, or has color added. Hubbard squash, which is a blue skinned, deep orange fleshed squash, or pink banana squash are also good alternatives.

Be sure not to use jack o lantern pumpkins, they are a different species, have a lot more moisture, and are stringy almost like a spaghetti squash. You end up with yellow or even greenish watery grainy pulp even after blending, and grainy pie.

Nonnajaci16 days ago

Yummy! I think I remember something like this from way back in my childhood. Thank you so much for putting it out here.

bstorer16 days ago

Thanks for sharing. I bake all my winter squash the same way. Living in cold Montana, the heat from the oven is a welcome addition and our family loves the fragrance of baked pumpkins and squash.

what can you do with the inside of the pumpkin
The seeds can be seasoned and toasted. Just wash off the stringy bits and toss the seeds in a spoonful of oil and your seasoning of choice, similar to how you would prepare popcorn. Then, toast them in flat pan in the oven at about 325 degrees F for 5-15 minutes, stirring them every now and then until they look dry and slightly golden at the edges. You can eat them like sunflower seeds, peeling off the outer shell, or just eat the whole thing if you don't mind the woody texture.

I'm not sure about what you could do with the stringy stuff, other than use it for compost.

also, theres really no need to wash the stringy bits off. you can just throw the seeds & stringy bits onto a cookie sheet and bake. the stringy bits will wilt away... after a bit in the oven you can then take a lil salt and shake over the seeds and then toss seeds back into oven,

I love doing this, the seeds taste so good (I like to lightly salt them).
Pumpkin seeds also go well in nutroasts, if you don't mind sitting and shucking them
ruth19531 year ago
can you freeze the pumpkin after it has been cooked?

yes you can freeze the pumpkin mash in ziploc bags (quart size) and then lay them flat in your freezer (just dont put any heavy items on top of pumpkin mash till after they have frozen completely.) and they will last till your ready to use them next time,

Instead of mashing my baked pumpkin, I puree it in a blender. @meatwagons, it keeps in the fridge for about a week in a sealed container, but I vacuum seal it in my FoodSaver bags and freeze it. It then lasts for quite a while.

SydneyG11 month ago

Wait after the pumpkins have cooled and i start scraping.. am i scraping what's in the inside of the pumpkin or am i also getting the skin too? I'm really confused on this step.

soundinnovation (author)  SydneyG11 month ago

You are scraping the baked pumpkin flesh off of the skin. The skin itself is discarded.

meatwagons.2 months ago

About how long does this stay good for?

Very nice!
rosewood5134 years ago
Actually a pie pumpkin is a blue hubbard squash. That is what Sara Lee uses in her pumpkin pie. I read that on their site once. They have less water so it is easier to make the pies from it.
But i still like to use regualr pumpkins to eat and make seeds with.
tqwerty4 years ago
When I do this I cover the pumpkins with tinfoil as well as line the pan. That way, you don't get the uneven burnt skin which can result in burnt insides and burney taste. It tastes much better that way and more of the juices stay in seeing as it roasts and steams at the same time
tqwerty4 years ago
you can use the blender as well
Jayefuu4 years ago
This is great. Too many ibles just say "add pureed pumpkin", this should give people a clue how to do that if they don't want to just use stuff from a can. Nice work.
hollyml5 years ago
Using a masher has some entertainment value, but -- especially if you're working with a large quantity -- a food processor will do this step with greater speed and ease.  And, if you like, you can add spices and/or other pie filling ingredients and mix them in with the food processor also.