Now that Halloween is officially behind us, it’s time to think about Thanksgiving and all of the sweet treats you might be thinking about baking this month. At the top of the list of Thanksgiving favorites is pumpkin pie! There are probably a million and some odd recipes for pumpkin pie, but if “canned pumpkin” is on the ingredient list, you need to keep looking.
Any good pumpkin pie starts with a delicious pumpkin, that doesn’t fit into a can. Pie pumpkins are available just about everywhere and are smaller than the traditional carving pumpkin and are typically labeled “pie pumpkins.” While using fresh pumpkin isn’t quite as easy as operating a can opener, it’s not difficult either. Thanks to my mom, I grew up on fresh pumpkin desserts where she used a pressure cooker to prepare the pumpkin. But don’t worry, if you don’t own a pressure cooker, you can easily cook pumpkin at home with a few simple tools you probably already have in your kitchen.
When you get your pumpkin home, just give it a quick rinse to remove any excess dirt.
Using a cutting board and a large serrated knife, cut the stem off at the base and slice the pumpkin into quarters.
Using a large, metal spoon, scrape the seeds and stringy layer of the pumpkin into a dish. You may even want to save the seeds for roasting.
Next, you’ll want to set up a steamer using a large pot, a strainer that is slightly smaller than the pot and a lid. In the pot, fill it a few inches deep with hot water, place the strainer over it and turn your stove to high so the water will boil. The water level should be just below the strainer so you’re not soaking and boiling the pumpkin. Place your pumpkin quarters (or cut them in half for smaller pieces) inside the strainer and seal with the lid.
Let the pumpkin steam for 20 minutes and check the water level to be sure it doesn’t go dry. Use a fork to test the center of a slice of pumpkin, if it’s still hard, continue to steam for another 20 minutes. The pumpkin is ready when your fork easily slides straight through the flesh into the skin.
Let your pumpkin cool on a bed of paper towels.
Once cooled, use a large, metal spoon to scoop the pumpkin into a mixing bowl.
Beat on high speed in an electric mixer for about 2 minutes, until all of the pumpkin resembles applesauce.
Now you’ve got fresh pumpkin perfect for making a pie!