No canned pumpkin? No problem. Here's what to
1:00 pm
Tue October 13, 2009

No canned pumpkin? No problem. Here's what to do...

Spending a Tuesday night roasting and pureeing an 18 pound pumpkin might seem crazy to some, but when a girl has a hankering for pumpkin pie, and there's a shortage of Libby's at the local grocer what else were we to do?

Nervous about the upcoming holiday season and the threat of pumpkin-less shelves, we decided to kick it old school and make our own pumpkin puree. To judge the results, we challenged our coworkers to a blind taste test, to see if homemade could stand up to the old standby. We baked two pies, both using the recipe found on Libby's label. One was made with our puree, the other with canned.

But before anything else, we needed to conquer the task of pumpkin puree from scratch.
Task 1: Pick a pumpkin. Uncertain about which bakes up the best pie, we turned to Frank Hodges, of Hodges Dairy Farm. Farmer Hodges highly recommended the Cinderella variety as the best baking pumpkin. Always up for a challenge we decided to take on the monstrous squash.

Task 2: Cut and roast the pumpkin.* Don't be discouraged by the size. Just hack into it. We recommend small wedges. They're easier to cut and roast faster. When we cut our pumpkin open we were expecting your average, stringy jack-o-lantern innards, but were pleasantly surprised with a sweet smelling, cantaloupe-like flesh. Dubious when we started, our expectations rose.

Task 3: Puree the roasted pumpkin.** Once the slices are fork tender, it's time to remove the peels. Scoop the flesh into a food processor (If you don't have one, go get one now. You'll thank us later, promise.) and pulse until smooth. Ours was quite watery, we drained the pureed pumpkin in cheesecloth to remove any excess liquid. We won't lie, ours wasn't as thick as the canned stuff. Our nerves set in, but we forged ahead knowing there would be hell to pay if we showed up to work pie-less.

Task 4: Make a pie (or two). Follow your recipe of choice. We let Libby guide us from here. Our home made puree filling was considerably thin. A frantic Google search for "runny pumpkin pie filling" led us to some questionable advice of adding boxed pudding mix to the filling. With a deadline approaching and a pantry stocked with pudding we crossed our fingers and went for it. With a quick taste of the newly thickened filling, the advice worked.

Five hours later, our pies are in the oven, and the final results of our taste test will have to wait until tomorrow. For now, rest assured that if the shelves where the canned pumpkin lives are bare, you can turn to your kitchen and create a fine pie from scratch. Your grandmother would be proud, we just won't tell Libby.

Now that we've got a surplus of homemade pumpkin puree on our hands, let us know what we should make next. Leave your favorite pumpkin recipe in the comments as we can never have too many pumpkin recipes on hand.

*Roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until flesh is fork tender.
**Our 18-pound pumpkin yielded 3-4 cups of puree.

Update
The results are in! WFAE staffers placed their votes (only after we wrestled the bowl of fresh whipped cream out of their arms). Our homemade pumpkin puree pie won 11 - 6. Apparently that pudding mix really did save the day! Now it's your turn to head over to Hodges Dairy Farm and pick yourself out a Cinderella pumpkin. Be sure to let us know what you think of your pumpkin pie with homemade pumpkin puree. Good luck and bon appetite!

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