Pumpkin Puree is a great first food for babies but can also be used to make your favourite pumpkin recipes. Use it in baked goods, stir it into oatmeal or add it to pasta sauces, risottos and soups.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkins can be baked, steamed or boiled. Baking pumpkins is my prefered method as I believe it gives the best flavour and is better for retaining nutrients. I also find it less labour intensive (no need to cut off the peel before cooking.)
For these reasons, I always recommend roasting pumpkin when making pumpkin puree.
- Preheat oven to 190C / 375F and line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut the pumpkin in half, through the stem, and scoop out the seeds and stringy fibres.
- Cut into large chunks and roast, uncovered, for approximately 45-50 minutes, until tender.
- Once cool enough to handle, remove the flesh from the skin and puree in a food processor or blender.
If you would prefer to boil/steam –
- Cut the pumpkin in half, through the stem, and scoop out the seeds and stringy fibres.
- Chop into 2-3cm (1 inch) chunks and peel.
- Add to boiling water and cook for around 20-30 mins (until tender) or add to a steamer or metal colander over boiling water and steam for about 50 minutes (until tender).
- Puree in a food processor or blender.
Choosing a Pumpkin for Pureeing
Like a lot of fruit and vegetables, pumpkins come in a number of varieties. You can really use any variety but field pumpkins are not recommended.
Field pumpkins, like those used for jack o’ lanterns, have very little flavour, are tough and stringy. They are best left for carving and decoration and should be avoided if making pumpkin puree.
I use Kent pumpkin (also known as a Japanese Kabocha), which is a popular variety here in Australia. If you are based in the USA look for pumpkins labelled sugar or pie pumpkins
Inspect the pumpkin, visually, to see if it has any cuts, bruises or strange discolourations on its skin. If the pumpkin doesn’t look 100% on the outside, chances are it won’t be of the best quality.
Knock the pumpkin on the side with your knuckles, the best pumpkins to have a deep, hollow sound when you tap them.
Test the pumpkin texture with your finger and be sure that the flesh does not give. Soft spots are a sign that the pumpkin won’t last much longer
Pumpkin Puree for Babies
Pumpkin puree can be enjoyed as it is or mixed with a range of other sweet and savoury purees. Some suggestions include
- apple puree
- sweet potato
Try adding different herbs and spices to give it a completely different flavour profile. Add a little cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg for a delicious sweet puree (mixed with yoghurt, apple, oatmeal etc.) Or add a little thyme, rosemary, cumin or turmeric for a savoury puree (mixed with carrot, potato, chicken, rice etc).
Other Uses for Pumpkin Puree
The first time I tried pumpkin in a sweet dish was when I lived in Arkansas, USA back in 2011. Before then I would have only really used it in savoury dishes, mainly soups (coming from the UK).
I guess it depends on where you are from to what you associate it with. Here in Australia, I see it featured a lot in salads. This just shows how versatile pumpkin is. Try using this homemade pumpkin puree in:
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese (sub the butternut squash with pumpkin puree)
- Sweet Potato Brownies (sub sweet potato puree with pumpkin puree)
- Sweet Potato Muffins (sub the sweet potato puree with pumpkin puree)
- Pumpkin Risotto (Sub pumpkin chunks for approx 2 cups (450g) pumpkin puree)
80g of pumpkin (roughly 3 heaped tablespoons) counts as one portion of your five-a-day (1)
Pumpkin is an excellent source of beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A and is a good source of vitamins C & E. It is a great source of potassium and contains other minerals such as calcium and magnesium (2)
- Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Alternatively, spoon the puree into ice-cube trays and freeze until solid. (Flexible ice cube trays work best as it is easier to pop out the frozen cubes.) Once fully frozen, pop them all out and place into a freezer bag or container and return to the freezer. Freeze for up to 3 months.
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- Food Processor, Blender or Stick Blender
- 1 Pumpkin * SEE NOTE 1
- Heat the oven to 190c / 375f and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Rinse the pumpkin under cold water to remove any dirt and pat dry with a clean tea towel.
- Using a sharp knife cut the pumpkin down the middle, through the stem, and scoop out the seeds and stringy fibres.
- Chop the pumpkin into large chunks. * SEE NOTE 3
- Bake in the oven for 45-50 min, until the flesh is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Once cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the peel and add to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
- I used a Kent / Jap Pumpkin (popular in Australia). Most varieties will work but the large field pumpkins (used for Halloween decoration/ carving) are not recommended. My pumpkin was 1.23kg (approx 2.7lb) in size and yields 6 cups of puree.
- If USA based look for sugar or pie pumpkins.
- I cut mine into 16 chunks of approx the same size. If using smaller pumpkins you will have fewer chunks.