© Denzil Green
Pumpkin Purée is the technical term for what most of us just call “Canned Pumpkin.”
If you’re making pies, Canned Pumpkin may be the way to go if you’re not an experienced hand, as they will help you avoid getting a watery pie. Even dab hands often prefer to use Canned Pumpkin. Good Canned Pumpkin also contains squash, but that’s not a problem — pumpkin is a squash. Canned Pumpkin is on the shelf of every grocery store in North America, and is less than the price of a real pumpkin.
That maybe, however, be only true for North America. It may be much harder, or more expensive, to find canned pumpkin in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
[Ed: since sometime in the 2000s, Libby’s in Canada changed to being sold under the E.D. Smith name. It is made from the same Dickinson Pumpkins though as the Libby’s is.]
To make your own: Wash pumpkin to remove any dirt. Cut pumpkin into large chunks (don’t bother peeling) and remove seeds. Steam for about 1/2 hour or until tender — poke with a fork to check for the same level of tenderness that you would when boiling potatoes. Drain in a colander, and let cool. Sometimes home cooked pumpkin purée can be runny: if you’ve had this happen to you before, and want to avoid it again, at this stage, put the cooked pumpkin chunks in a colander resting in a large bowl, cover all with plastic wrap, and set in refrigerator overnight to drain.
Scrape the cooked pumpkin off from the skin with a large metal spoon and discard the skin. Put the pumpkin into a blender (or food processor) and purée until smooth, or mash with a potato masher.
You can also make purée from other squash in the same manner. The best versions combine pumpkin with some other squash.
Instead of steaming the pumpkin, some people roast it.
Even if you are in a hurry, always cool it before using it in pumpkin pies.
1 cup of pumpkin purée = 225 ml / 225 g = 8 oz
16 oz (by weight or volume) of pumpkin purée = 450g = 2 cups
1 x 800 ml (27 oz) can of pumpkin purée =800 g = 3 1/4 cups
Store opened canned pumpkin in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze in ziplock bags; mark on each how much purée there is so you will know when you go to use it. You may wish to freeze it in 1 cup / 8 oz / 225g portions.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) used to give procedures for home canning of Pumpkin Purée, but since 1989 they have withdrawn those guidelines and now recommend against it. They recommend freezing instead for food safety reasons.
Literature & Lore
“Streamlines and glamour—that’s what pumpkin pie has today,” says Mary Ellis Ames, director of Pillsbury’s cooking service.
“Thanks to canned pumpkin,’ says Mrs. Ames “you can easily and quickly make up a pie any time you want a good dessert to impress your company or delight your family. Also,” she adds, “you can give your pie extra allure and flavor by topping it with glistening orange marmalade and snowy meringue.
“The modern homemaker is mighty lucky to be able to rely on canned pumpkin, for, in olden times, pumpkin pie was a seasonal delicacy that required long hours of preparation. Big, yellow pumpkins, grown in corn field and ripened ‘neath the harvest moon, were stored in vegetable cellars at the first sign of frost to await the cook’s pleasure. Long before the pie crust was rolled, the pumpkin had to be peeled, cubed, carefully cooked, and sieved – a tedious process that meant hours of extra labor. And, since the pumpkins wouldn’t keep indefinitely, the cook had to cram her pumpkin pie baking into a relatively short season.
“But now, it’s easy to bake a pumpkin pie, and to do it clear around the calendar. You just need a can of pumpkin and a reliable can opener.”
Here is Mrs. Ames’ favorite pumpkin pie recipe — good any time!” — Favored Pumpkin Pie Has Glamour. San Antonio Light. San Antonio, Texas. 15 November 1940. page 33
Sometimes referred to as “mashed pumpkin” or “pumpkin pulp” — though growers use “pulp” to refer to the non-solid, stringy bits in the centre of a pumpkin surrounding the seeds.