A forgettable number of years ago, I tried to make a pumpkin pie by roasting my own pumpkin, and was not pleased with the result.
From that point on, I touted my “only-canned-pumpkin” policy, meaning that while in most conceivable kitchen scenarios, homemade is better than canned, this was a case where that was simply not true. With the rise of industrialized food and Libby’s, I was firmly convinced that Thanksgiving dessert tables all over the country were better suited in these processed times (drawing a hard & fast line at the invention of Cool Whip).
But then last year? Let’s just say I can’t teach a sleeping dog new tricks. Or let an old dog lie. Whatever, I just couldn’t let it go.
So I roasted a “pumpkin.” Translation: I roasted a butternut squash, and used it to make a pumpkin pie. And it was delightful, the best pumpkin pie I’d ever made.
Before you gasp in the horror of my farce, the intentional misleading of pie-adoring innocents, just hear me out.
The problem with roasting pumpkins is that many varieties have too much water, so you end up with a runny mess when it comes pie time. Wanna know the secret to those cans of thick, condensed pumpkin purée?
They use butternut squash.
That’s right. I can’t even remember who told me this. But the dirty truth is that most canned pumpkin purée is made up of other varieties of winter squash. Technically the FDA allows everyone to label it “pumpkin” because they are of similar plant varieties. And who can blame them? Butternut, along with other winter squashes, are dryer than pumpkins. When it comes to roasting puree for use in pies, breads, and the lot, dryer equals thicker.
Since now is the time when I can get organic butternut squash at my farmer’s market for around 85¢/pound, I decided to get ahead of the game and start roasting some for the upcoming pumpkin-love season. Checking a can in the pantry, I found they hold 425g by weight, which ends up being about 1 3/4 cups by volume — easy to measure and freeze in ready-to-use canned-size portions.
So if, like me, you have been long-wed to the can, pick up a butternut squash and give this method a try in your next pumpkin recipe. As far as whether or not you are morally bound to reveal the source of the best pumpkin pie you will ever make, well, I leave that up to you.
I’m certainly not telling anyone.
This recipe was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.
Recipe: Homemade pumpkin puree
- butternut squash (one 2-pound squash will give you about the equivalent of a 15-oz can of pumpkin)
- Preheat oven to 350º, and line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.
- Cut the tough stem off the squash, then cut in half lengthwise. Scrape seeds from inside and discard.
- Place squash halves cut-side down on sheets.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until very soft.
- Let squash cool completely. Scrape flesh from the skins, and puree in a food processor until smooth.
- Measure out in 1 3/4 cup portions, and freeze until ready to use (use as exact replacement for one 15-oz can of pumpkin puree).
Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.