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!
Watch how to make pumpkin puree
Pumpkin puree Canned Pumpkin Substitute
Canned Pumpkin Substitute: Pumpkin Puree
- pumpkin or butternut squash
- Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
- Cut pumpkin in half.
- Scoop out seeds.
- Place each half, cut side down, on a baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven until the pumpkin softens. Start checking every 5-10 minutes or so, after 30 minutes, by lightly pressing on the skin.
- Once soft, remove the pumpkin halves from the oven and let them 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 or with an immersion blender.
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!