I don’t know why pumpkin pie is relegated to only shine on Thanksgiving. I for one could eat it every day of the year. ESPECIALLY pumpkin pie that’s made with real pumpkin.
Have you ever had a moment of revelation? They’re rare, but I can assure you they do exist. Those little moments in life where you find something out and realize up until that very point in time you were living in the dark. Like a fish living life at the bottom of the sea. Like a bug burrowed deep in the bark of a tree. Like a bozo.
About 9 years ago I discovered something that knocked me right on my ass. You can cook pumpkin pie made with real pumpkin. Yes. Sugar pumpkins to be precise.
I swear to God I had no idea there was any option other than opening up a can of pumpkin. And it’s not like I was some sort of canned food eating lunatic who thought peas or beans or those tiny little cobs of corn only came in cans. I knew all of these things could be found fresh. (now that I think of it, cans might be the only place you can find those tiny little cobs of corn.)
It just never occurred to me for some reason that you could make pumpkin pie by cooking a pumpkin. Until one day I saw a sign. It said:
Holy crap! I bought a pumpkin. I made a pie. I did it again yesterday to show you it’s true! You can make a pie out of a pumpkin.
How Do You Make Pumpkin Puree?
First things first … you need a pie pumpkin. These are the smaller pumpkins you see around. About the size of a small head. Like, a toddler’s head.
Your first job is to crack off the stem.
Then grab the nearest chef’s knife and whack your pumpkin in half.
Inside it’ll look just like a squash does when you split it in half.
Scoop out all of the guts and fibres … then place face down on a greased baking sheet. Bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes – 1 hr.
The pumpkins are done when they’re easily pierced with a fork.
When they’ve cooled a bit, flip the pumpkins over and grab a spoon. Scrape the flesh out of the pumpkins and put it into a bowl.
One small pumpkin will yield around 3 cups. Plenty for one pumpkin pie. Puree your pumpkin either in a traditional blender or with a hand blender.
Blend it until it has a very smooth consistency.
Because pumpkin tends to be a bit watery, it’s best to strain it in some cheesecloth for a few hours.
I just set mine in the fridge overnight. About a cup of liquid drained out of the pumpkin pulp.
Now you have cooked, strained pumpkin like they sell in cans. Only often the pumpkin sold in cans is actually squash. Seriously. Look at the ingredients on a can of pumpkin. Which you might think is bad but actually all it means is you can also have pumpkin pie made with real pumpkin … OR squash. So when pie pumpkins aren’t in season and you hanker for pumpkin pie, just grab a squash for the job.
Now you just continue on as you normally would if you were making pumpkin pie, substituting your homemade pumpkin for the canned stuff.
Classic Pumpkin Pie
Top with Maple Syrup Whipped Cream and enjoy!
Here's the best thing. You can make this pumpkin puree then freeze it to use whenever you want!
- 2 cups Pumpkin Puree
- 1 can evaporated milk 12 ounces
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsps. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/4 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 pie crust
- 1 pie pumpkin
Cut pie pumpkin in half and scoop out the guts.
Place face down on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 until tender (around 45 minutes to 1 hour) It should be fork tender.
Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.
Puree your pumpkin in either a traditional blender or with a stick blender until very smooth.
Because pumpkin can be quite watery, you should strain your pumpkin puree in cheesecloth overnight if possible. A few hours at the very least. It's possible a full cup of water will strain out.
You now have pumpkin puree!
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- Add sugar, salt, spices and lemon zest to bowl and mix.
- Beat the eggs very well and add them to the bowl of mixed ingredients.
- Mix in pumpkin puree.
- Add evaporated milk and combine well.
Roll out pie crust and put in pie plate.
Blind bake your pie crust. This helps prevent a soggy crust. To do this, line your pie crust with tin foil, fill with pie weights, rice or dried beans, bake for 10 minutes, remove tin foil and weights, then bake another 5 minutes.
Remove blind baked crust from the oven and fill with pumpkin mixture.
Bake at 425 F for 15 Minutes, then turn oven down to 350 F and bake an additional 40-50 minutes. If the crust starts to darken, cover it with tin foil for the remainder of the bake.
Pie is done when a knife comes out *almost* clean. Just a speck or two of filling on it. If it comes out completely clean the pie will be overdone. But it'll still be delicious, so who cares.
- Let cool on wire rack until the pie is set.
Guess what? You can make pumpkin puree with squash if pie pumpkins aren't in season. I know. It seems like cheating. But if you have a "pumpkin" pie craving who cares if you're cheating?!
TOOLS THAT MAKE THE JOB EASIER
Hand blender – Mine is ancient and cost a lot originally but you can buy them for $30 now.
Cheesecloth – I swear I can never find cheesecloth in the grocery store. It’s like it’s a game to them to see how well they can hide it.
Whipped Cream Dispenser – Since originally writing this post I’ve delved into the world of whipped cream dispensers. This is the brand I own and love. LOVE this thing. And trust me, sitting down at the Thanksgiving table for pie, the kids’ll love it too.
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