Many people look at a pumpkin and think “Jack-O-Lantern”. That’s fine, especially if you’re crazy about Halloween. But when I look at a pumpkin, I think “Food!”, and when my son looks at a pumpkin, he thinks “PIE!!!”
I started cooking and pureeing my own pumpkins years ago, and I actually prefer it to canned pumpkin (although that will work in a pinch). I roast up my pumpkins, pretty much as shown in the video from Heartland Trails shown below, and I freeze it in 2-cup increments. That works out to be about the same amount of pumpkin found in the small can at the local supermarket.
The basic directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove the stem from your pumpkin(s). Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and stringy stuff. This works best with a sharp-edged spoon (one with a relatively thin bowl on it – for whatever reason, this seems to scrape better).
Place pumpkins, cut side down, on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet (this really helps with clean-up!). Roast in oven til the pumpkin is cooked through. This could be anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size of your pumpkin.*
Remove from oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. Scrape out pumpkin meat and puree. Freeze in 2 cup increments for later, or use in a variety of recipes now.
*Many people will tell you that sugar pie pumpkins are the best for cooking – and they certainly are the easiest. They come out of the pumpkin with about the same density as the pumpkin you find in cans. However, you CAN roast the larger pumpkins. They have a bit milder of a flavor, and a lot more water. However, if you let them drain (in a colander) for 45-60 minutes before you puree them, they will have a nice, dense consistency as well.