How to Bake Your Own Pumpkin or Winter Squash

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How to Bake Your Own Pumpkin or Winter Squash
Baking your own squash or pumpkin couldn’t be any easier, and the taste and texture results are so worth it!!
As an added bonus, you save some money, perfume your house with pumpkiny goodness (I know..not a word!), and most likely put to use a item you likely had out for some pumpkin or Fall decor anyways.  Here are some simple directions to get some very tasty pumpkin puree, and some tips on how to store it.
  • Which pumpkins to bake?  Not all pumpkins are intended for consumption.  The typical jack-o-lantern we purchase for Halloween is very watery and lacks flavor.  Ask at the market or store you buy from if you need help finding a good cooking squash.  My favorites are : Buttercup, Kabocha, Butternut, Cinderella, Fairytale, Carnival, Long Pie, Hubbard, Sweet Meat, and Sugar Pie (although there are endless options out there!).  Sugar Pie’s and Butternut are the most widely available.  They key to picking a good one is choosing a GOOD EATING variety, then it needs to feel dense and hefty for it’s size….a sign of good flesh!  Ask your local farmer or produce person for help.  When in doubt, choose a Sugar Pie or Butternut.
  • HAVE A FUN BAKE-OFF DAY: Stock up on a few varieties for a little taste test, find out which you like best!!  Some are much sweeter than others!  It is just as easy to fill two cookie sheets as it is 1, take advantage, it will save you some time and energy!
  • The water content of every squash can vary widely.  One year, my normally perfect Cinderella Pumpkin was super spongy and watery.  When I baked it, there were pools of water.  I had to hassle with cooking the water out of it…fine, but kind of a pain.  In general, stay away from any spongy or overtly soft pumpkins – too much water!  Flesh should be very firm with little give when pushed.
  • Some squashes are very dry, so it is OK to add some water to the final flesh to puree it to desired consistency.  You are going for smooth and easily scoopable, but you should not be able to easily pour it.  If you have ever opened a can of pumpkin, you know what you are looking for.
  • How much will I get?    Typically, a Sugar Pie will yield about 2 cups pumpkin puree.  But that is a gross generalization,,,the size can vary widely!  I baked one good size Sugar Pie and one melon size Kabocha here (see pictures below) and filled about five two-cup bags of puree.
If you are looking for some great ways to use up pumpkin puree, I have more pumpkin recipes than I can shake a stick at!  Here are some:
  1. Cut your squash into half, or if it is a large pumpkin, into large chunks that will fit onto a cookie sheet.   Use large knife, this can take some muscle.How to Bake Your Own Pumpkin or Winter Squash
  2. Using a large metal spoon, scrape away the innards, and if you are feeling especially ambitious, set the seeds aside to to be washed and roasted!How to bake Your Own Pumpkin or Winter Squash
  3. Here we have it cleaned out and ready to bake.How to bake Your Own Pumpkin or Winter Squash
  4. Place the squash cut side down on a cookie sheet.  If you are using an especially dry squash, adding a couple of tablespoons water to the pan is OK.  Place the sheet into a  preheated 350 degree oven.How to bake Your Own Pumpkin or Winter Squash
  5. Cooking time will vary greatly on the size of squash you are cooking.  First test is to pierce the outer skin with a fork, it should be easy.  Second, lift one of the pieces up and probe around the inside, the flesh should fall away easily w/ almost no scraping.  If it still seems firm, you know you need some more time.  Start with about 45 minutes for an average size sugar pie pumpkin.  Mine were large and took about an hour.  I have had to go up 80 minutes before.cookedsquash
  6. Once the cooked flesh is cool enough to handle, scoop it out into a food processor.  Whir the whole mixture for a couple of minutes until silky and smooth.  With my Kabocha squash, I had to add a touch of water to give movement to the flesh within the food processor bowl.  The Sugar Pie had more water content and needed no additional water to spin freely.How to bake Your Own Pumpkin or Winter Squash
One idea for storage is to put measured amounts (I suggest 1 or 2 cup portions) in freezer safe Ziploc bags.  Squeeze the excess air out, and squish it around to lay it flat.  I stack my bags and freeze them like this.  When they are frozen flat like this, it is very easy to stack or ‘file’ them into the free space in my freezer.  I also freeze the puree in mason jars (careful to allow an inch or 2 for expansion).

This post was shared with Natural Living Monday, Make Your Own Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasteful Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, GF Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Hearth & Soul, GF Wednesday, Real Foods Wednesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Tuesday Greens, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Frugal days Sustainable Ways, Thank Your Body, Pennywise Platter, Tasty Traditions, Simple Lives Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Wellness Weekend, Whole Foods Friday, GF Friday, Fight back Friday, Simple Meals Friday, Healthy Vegan Friday, Potluck Party,

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When her third child was born with severe food allergies, Tessa took to the kitchen to figure out how to feed her family well. Always up for a culinary challenge, their journey has taken many twists and turns! Lots of Paleo, and lots of top 8 free. Good food for families, that's what she's about!

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9 comments on “How to Bake Your Own Pumpkin or Winter Squash
  1. Scarlett says:

    Thank you for such an easy pumpkin tutorial! I love pumpkin, but am so hesitant to chop one up myself. Pinnimng this post!

  2. Becky says:

    I am about to do this tomorrow, so thanks for the tips! Perfect for linking up on Tuesday Greens!

  3. Great pics and tutorial on cooking squash. I love the idea of cooking up some extra and freezing it for quick use in the future.

  4. Miz Helen says:

    Great Tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope your weekend was great!
    Miz Helen

  5. Ana says:

    Hi, If I were making pumpkin pie, which pumpkin should I be using to make the puree from?? Thx for this post!

  6. Kirsten says:

    I used to think this was totally unnecessary…WAY easier to buy pumpkin in a can. In Tessa’s pumpkin bar recipe, she swears up and down that fresh pumpkin is undeniably better. I had to “taste test” the recipe both ways (oh darn, pumpkin cake twice)to see for myself. Not only was I pleasantly surprised that it really is quite easy to bake your own pumpkin but it really does taste better! I also used fresh pumpkin puree in a pumpkin soup I made and it rocked. I totally get what she means about the canned pumpkin having a stronger taste so I definitely recommend fresh!

  7. I just started making my own puree this year. The first ” sugar pumpkin” I purchased came out tasting like sweet butternut squash and mashed beautifully. The next “sugar pumpkin” came out like spaghetti squash and looked and tasted like an orange spaghetti squash. I made it into a puree , but it was weird.
    Anyone had that experience?

    • Hi Judee! It looks like you either got a a pumpkin that was mislabeled (most likely), or just a bad one. Just like apples, even in season aren’t always great, sometimes you get not so great/flavorful pumpkins and squash.

      I have taken to stalking up when I find a supplier with tasty ones…and lately I have been going for all sorts of large heirloom varieties because I can get so much puree from one fruit, it saves a lot of energy (buttercup, blue doll, kabocha, and hubbard, and other varieties I find).

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My name is Tessa, and I have learned to cook without almost all major allergens! I have a focus on making family foods as healthy as possible. Real food is my obsession. Gluten free, casein free, vegan, Paleo, sugar free: I have a little of something for anyone with restrictions., Take a peek, you're sure to find something delicious, and if you need any help, I am always willing to help you tweak things to YOUR tastes and dietary needs!

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