How to Cook a Pumpkin and make Pumpkin Puree

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Psalm 1:1-2

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,  But whose delight is in the law of the LORD,  and who meditates on his law day and night.

Today I was all ready to post some really cute pictures of my grandkids making pumpkin pie when they were visiting us last year.  Then I realized that as part of that recipe I refer to making your own pumpkin puree.  So, I decided I better not get the pie before the puree and all the cute pictures of my grandsons will just have to wait until tomorrow!! Okay, maybe one picture now ….
Last year we grew Sugar Pumpkins for the first time.  We harvested the pumpkins and made pumpkin puree.  It turns out it is really easy to do!   All winter I have been able to make a variety of pumpkin recipes with the freshly frozen puree.

Grandpa Lee and Miles Cutting Up The Pumpkin

I have used up our supply and was readily looking forward to this year’s crop.  The pumpkins are growing and looking good right now, but we are getting so much rain that several of our other veggies (acorn squash and tomatoes) have been less than perfect because of too much water!  I know one thing for sure, I couldn’t be a farmer’s wife with my livelihood dependent on mother nature!  Too hot, too cold, too much rain, not enough rain — where does it end?  For me, I hope it ends with a little supply of fresh pumpkin puree this fall.  Just writing about pumpkin is making me salivate for a slice of fresh pumpkin pie!  Oh my goodness, will my love affair with food never end!

First – Get your pie pumpkin

“Pie pumpkins” are smaller, sweeter, less grainy textured pumpkins than the usual jack-o-lantern types. Grocery stores usually carry them in late September through December in the U.S.  They are also very easy to grow and fun for the kids to watch through the summer and pick in the fall.

Just like selecting any squash, look for one that is firm, no bruises or soft spots,
and a good orange color.

Pie pumpkins are small, usually only 6 inches in diameter. You can usually
obtain about 2 or 3 cups or puree per pumpkin.

Prepare the pumpkin for cooking

Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in cool or warm water — no soap.   Cut the pumpkin in half.  A serrated knife in a sawing motion works best – a smooth knife is more likely to slip and cut something other than the pumpkin! 🙁 Remove the stem.

 Remove the seeds…

And scrape the insides. You want to get out that stringy, dangly stuff that coats the inside surface. A heavy ice cream scoop or a large metal spoon works great for this.


The seeds can be used either to plant pumpkins next year,  or roasted to eat this year! Place them in a bowl of water and rub them between your hands. then pick out the orange buts (throw that away) and drain off the water. Spread them out on a clean towel or paper towel to dry and they’re ready to save for next year’s planting or roast.

Put it in a microwaveable bowl

I find a Corning Ware dish with a lid works really well. You may need to cut the
pumpkin further to make it fit, however the fewer the number of pieces, the easier it will to scoop out the cooked pumpkin afterwards.  Pour an inch of water in the bowl, cover it, and put in the microwave.

Cook the pumpkin until soft

Cook for 15 minutes on high, check to see if it is soft, then repeat in shorter
increments of time until it is soft enough to easily scoop out. Normally it takes 20 or 30 minutes in total.  Note: You CAN cook it on the stove top or cook in the oven, but it will take almost twice as long or more.

Scoop out the cooked pumpkin

Using a broad, smooth spoon (such as a tablespoon) gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin. It should separate easily an fairly large chucks, if the pumpkin is cooked enough.

 Puree the pumpkin

To get a nice, smooth consistency, I use a food processor.  Pulse a few seconds at a time to start, then turn it on briefly and you will have wonderfully smooth natural, freshly processed pumpkin!  You can use a mixer, or a hand blender, whatever you have. A regular blender works, too (unless it is full of Margaritas to get you through the pumpkin cooking event! )

Done with the pumpkin!

The pumpkin is now cooked and ready for the
pie recipe.  The puree can be stored in the refrigerator up to 7 days or frozen up to 3 months, unless you freeze it in a vacuum sealed bag — a year later mine is still good!

Tomorrow I will blog about pumpkin pie from the garden to the table.  Get ready because this is fun AND delicious eating!

Finish margaritas with the satisfaction of a job well done!


Q. Where were the first pumpkins grown?
A. Pumpkins are believed to have been first cultivated in Central America. Spanish and Portuguese explorers carried pumpkin seeds back to Europe in the 14th century. In North America, Native Americans grew pumpkins for food long before the first Europeans arrived on the continent in the 1600s.

Q. Why are pumpkins orange?
A. The vivid orange color of pumpkin indicates a high content of carotene pigments such as lutein, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene (which turns in to vitamin A in the body).

Q. Why are pumpkins associated with Halloween?

A. Using pumpkins as lanterns at Halloween is based on an ancient Celtic custom brought to America by Irish immigrants. All Hallows Eve on October 31st marked the end of the old Celtic calendar year. On that night hollowed-out turnips, beets and rutabagas with a candle inside were placed on windowsills and porches to welcome home spirits of deceased ancestors and ward off evil spirits and a restless soul called “Stingy Jack.”

Q. Is the Halloween jack o’lantern the same as a LIBBY’S pumpkin?

A. Both pumpkins are members of the squash family grown on a variety of plant named Cucurbita pepo. However, LIBBY’S pumpkins were specially developed over time and are officially named the LIBBY’S Select Dickinson pumpkin. The LIBBY’S Select Dickinson pumpkin is smaller, squatter, meatier, heavier and sweeter than the Halloween pumpkin. It has a creamy texture and fresh pure pumpkin flavor – perfect for cooking!

Q. Why do we eat pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving?

A. In 1621, at the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to give thanks for their first successful harvest, they ate a pumpkin custard flavored with maple syrup and spices baked in pumpkin shells. The beloved Thanksgiving pumpkin pie evolved from this treat.

Q. Is the pumpkin a vegetable or a fruit?

A. Surprise! The pumpkin is actually a fruit, a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants with trailing vines.

Q. How big was the largest pumpkin ever grown?

A. Gerry Checkon of Altoona, Pennsylvania grew a pumpkin weighing 1,131 pounds from Atlantic Giant seed stock on October 2, 1999.
Growing LIBBY’S Pumpkins

Q. What state would you visit to find where LIBBY’S pumpkins grow?

A. LIBBY’S Dickinson Select pumpkins are grown exclusively in the rich farmlands around Morton, Illinois.

Q. How many acres of LIBBY’S pumpkins are planted every year?

A. Approximately 5,000 acres of Select Dickinson pumpkins are planted each year exclusively for LIBBY’S.

Q. How long does it take a pumpkin to mature and be ready for harvesting?

A. It takes pumpkins an average of 120 days to mature on the vine, one reason they grow to be so large.

Q. What happens to the seeds that are removed from LIBBY’S pumpkins?

A: The seeds from the best pumpkins are saved and used to plant the crop in the following years. Others are ground into mulch and applied to farmland.

Q. How many LIBBY’S pumpkin pies are consumed each year?

A: More than 50 million pumpkin pies are baked and consumed each year. Many other savory and delicious LIBBY’S Pumpkin recipes are enjoyed each year too.

Q. When does the LIBBY’S Pumpkin harvest begin?

A. Harvesting traditionally starts around mid-August each year and ends around the last week of October.

Q. How long does it take to pick and can LIBBY’S Pumpkin?

A: It only takes approximately 70 days to pick and can all the pumpkins. And, to ensure freshness, LIBBY’S Pumpkin is canned the same day it is harvested.
Cooking with LIBBY’S Pumpkin

Q. What is the difference between LIBBY’S Pumpkin Pie Mix and LIBBY’S 100% Pure Pumpkin?

A. LIBBY’S 100% Pure Pumpkin is just that – pure pumpkin with nothing added – no salt, no sugar, no artificial flavorings, colorings or preservatives. It’s ready-to-use for all cooking and baking uses. LIBBY’S Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix contains pure pumpkin and a blend of traditional spices and sugar. Just add eggs and evaporated milk to the Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix, pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake for a delicious and easy dessert.

Q. How much pumpkin is in each size can?

A. A 15-ounce can of LIBBY’S 100% Pure Pumpkin contains 1 3/4 cups of pumpkin. A 29-ounce can of LIBBY’S 100% Pure Pumpkin contains 3 1/2 cups of pumpkin.

Q. What’s the best way to store leftover pumpkin?

A. Spoon the pumpkin from the can and place it in a re-sealable plastic container and refrigerate. Pumpkin will keep for one week if stored in the refrigerator.

Q. Can pumpkin be frozen?

A. Pumpkin will keep up to three months in the freezer. First scoop it out of the can and place it in a re-sealable plastic container with room for the pumpkin to expand as it freezes. The expansion is due to pumpkin’s high moisture content.

Q. What is the world’s biggest pumpkin pie?

A. As reported in USA Today November 2004, “The biggest pumpkin pie on record weighed 418 pounds and was made by Windsor Farmers Market and Windsor High School Culinary Arts program in California.

Pumpkin 12.3 Gallons
Milk 8 Gallons
Hen Eggs 224
Ostrich Eggs 2
Sugar 56 Pounds
Flour 24 Pounds
Butter 8 Pounds
Vanilla 1 Cup
Spices 207 Teaspoons
Recorded as of October 2003.
Sources: and Libby’s Pumpkin.

But records are meant to be broken! As of February 2006, The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes a 2020-pound pie as biggest pumpkin pie on record. It was made by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers from New Bremen, Ohio.

That’s a huge pie! The record-breaking bakers say they used Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe (with a few modifications). So if you happen to have more than 900 pounds of pumpkin lying around, you could try to set your own record! Be warned, they had help from a very supportive community. It’s not easy to come by an oven that can handle a pie that’s over twelve feet wide, much less a pan to bake it in!
Pumpkin 900 Pounds
Evap. Milk 62 Gallons
Eggs 155 Dozen
Sugar 300 Pounds
Salt 3.5 Pounds
Cinnamon 7 Pounds
Pumpkin Spice 2 Pounds
Crust 250 Pounds

Recorded as of February 2006.
Sources: and Libby’s Pumpkin.


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3 thoughts on “How to Cook a Pumpkin and make Pumpkin Puree”

  1. Valuable info. Fortunate me I found your web site by chance, and I am shocked why this accident did not took place earlier! I bookmarked it.

  2. Hi Catherine:
    This is absolutely terrific! I have a question though. is it possible to use “ordinary” pumpkins? I didn’t know there was such a thing as a pie pumpkin until today. The deer have helped themselves to the best pumpkin so far.. but I have a couple more nice ones growing, just wondering if they would work. Thanks for your input.

    • Hi Toni! This is a great question. I thought I knew the answer but did a little research first — just so I wouldn’t lead you astray! Field pumpkins, which are bred for perfect jack-o-lanterns, tend to be too large and stringy for baking. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are bigger and because they’re grown for size, tend to have this stringier flesh and are more watery. However, on the bright side – their seeds are great for roasting! We have some field pumpkins being grown so I can use them to decorate this fall. When we carve them, I am going to roast the seeds, so later this fall I will post the roasting pictures! Bottom line –keep the jack-o-lanterns for carving and for roasting the seeds; bake the pie pumpkin. Trust me – you don’t want that stringy stuff in your prize pumpkin recipe!


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