I have been told that Pumpkin Pie baked with real pumpkin puree is far superior to the canned pumpkin puree. Since I'm pretty new to the whole Pumpkin Pie experience I thought I'd test that theory. Making pumpkin puree was pretty easy so I thought it was worth sharing with everyone.
First you have to get yourself a sugar or pie pumpkin. They're the smaller ones anywhere between the size of a five pin bowling ball to a ten pin bowling ball. They're usually darker than a jack-o-lantern pumpkin with more pronounced ridges and a straighter stem.
You might think that you can just buy a smaller jack-o-lantern pumpkin and bake it up just fine. True, you could, but you'd get the best results with a pie pumpkin. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are grown for their thin flesh and stringy insides to make them easier to carve. Pie pumpkins are grown for their thick flesh and taste for best results in baking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
Snap off the stem and, with a large sharp knife, slice it in half vertically. With a spoon scoop out the insides of each half to expose the hard dense flesh. Lay the halves on the baking sheet so the outer skin is facing up and bake them for about 45 – 60 minutes depending on the size of your pumpkin.
You'll know they're done when you can pierce the skin with a fork without much resistance. Flip them over to expose the flesh and let them cool to a temperature that makes them comfortable to handle.
With a spoon scoop out the flesh and discard the tough skin. In a food processor blend the pumpkin flesh until it's a smooth consistency free of any lumps. To remove any excess water strain the puree in cheesecloth for a few hours. You'll be left with rich thick pumpkin puree worthy of any recipe you want to add it to. There you go! Easy as... ahem... pie!
And make sure not to throw away all those glorious pumpkin seeds! I'll show you what you can do with them soon.