Seriously, it is so easy, and it tastes so, so much better than the canned stuff. Sure, it takes a little time, but it's well worth it. Here's how to do it.
Start with a fresh pie pumpkin. Most groceries carry them, and it's even better if you can find one at a local farmer's market or farm. This variety is usually called pie pumpkins and they are much small than the type used for jack-o-lanterns. Wash and dry the pumpkin and then cut it in half, from the top to the bottom.
It may be easier to cut a bit of the pumpkin and then turn it on it's side to cut the rest since the skin and flesh are both pretty tough. Did you ever wonder what that little place on the bottom of a pumpkin is that looks kind of like a belly button? The pumpkin farmer told me that it's where the pumpkin grew from the blossom on the vine. I love little scientific facts like that!
Once the pumpkin is cut in half, you'll see that it's filled with lots of gooey membranes and seeds.
If you'd like, you can separate the seeds from the membranes and roast them. Or save a few seeds, dry them out, and plant in your garden next year.
Here's what the pumpkin looks like when it's all cleaned out. Clean out the other pumpkin half,
and place them, cut side down, on a baking tray. Bake them at 350 degrees until they are tender when pierced with a fork, about 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of your pumpkin.
This is what they look like when they're done. You'll notice that the skin is darker
and both it and the pumpkin flesh have become very soft.
Turn the pumpkin halves over and let them cool.
Once the pumpkin is cooled, scoop out all of the flesh and put it into the bowl of your food processor.
Put the lid of your machine on and process just until the pumpkin is smooth.
And that's it! You can store your fresh pureed pumpkin in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. You'll use the same amount of fresh pumpkin as you would canned pumpkin in your recipes. You can also freeze the pumpkin--just measure out either 1- or 2-cup portions and place them in a freezer bag. Mark the bag with the date and allow to thaw before using it in all of your favorite pumpkin goodies. Frozen fresh pumpkin will last up to six months in the freezer.