Why use canned pumpkin when it’s super easy to make pumpkin puree as a healthier, tastier canned pumpkin substitute?
I have to admit, when I first got to Spain, many years ago now, I was a little bit disappointed that they don’t sell canned pumpkin here. I wanted to make a pumpkin pie to celebrate Thanksgiving, and had to figure out how to do it. At the time I couldn’t rely on the internet (yet!), and I didn’t even have any cookbooks with me.
Those years forced me to learn to make up my own recipes. I’m not very good at following recipes anyway; I always like to make up my own ways of doing things. Trying to replicate a recipe without a basic guideline, though, was a bit intimidating at first.
One year I successfully made pumpkin pie without a can of pumpkin and without a recipe. I think I just mixed together some pumpkin puree, cream, eggs, sugar and pie spices, crossed my fingers, poured them into a crushed cookie crust, and threw it into the oven. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, that pumpkin pie was amazing. I guess it should have been; fresh is usually better. Right?
Still, I felt like I was missing out on the convenience of pumpkin in a can. The next time I went to the US, I brought a few cans back with me. I think I only ended up using one, though, because I came to the realization that it just wasn’t worth it. Even without having heard anything about the possible health concern of BPA in cans, I stopped using canned pumpkin because fresh tastes better! (After seeing, and tasting, the real thing, looking at canned pumpkin actually grosses me out a bit!)
By now I almost take it for granted that everybody would know how to make their own canned pumpkin substitute or pumpkin puree; I mean, here, in Spain, most people do. I realized, though, that maybe some people are so used to only seeing pumpkin in a can, or as a jack-o-lantern, that they might not actually know how to make their own.
It couldn’t be easier!
Canned Pumpkin Substitute: Pumpkin Puree
- pumpkin or butternut squash
Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF)
Cut pumpkin in half
Scoop out seeds
Place, cut side down, on a baking sheet
Bake in the oven until the pumpkin softens. Start checking, after 45-60 minutes, by lightly pressing on the skin.
Once soft, remove it from the oven and let it cool.
Scrape the pulp off of the skin.
If the pulp of your pumpkin is soft enough, you can mash it with a fork and you are finished. If not, or if you want it smoother, puree in a food processor.
Here you will see that I also used a Butternut Squash, which is also known as butternut pumpkin in some parts of the world.
Here, in Spain, it is also the most common “calabaza” (pumpkin), so I just always assumed it would be called pumpkin everywhere. In any case, It’s what I most often use for recipes that call for canned pumpkin.
So, I guess instead of making pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, I made a spectacular butternut squash pie!
Either way, it was tasty.
You can use your pumpkin puree in some fall recipes immediately, or freeze some for later.
I like to freeze mine in these ice cube trays. You can see how and why in my post about making smoothie cubes/homemade baby food. Having pumpkin ice cubes is convenient for making quick pumpkin smoothies, or adding a little pumpkin flavor to your recipes…
…a necessity this time of year, of course!