I made my very own pumpkin puree for the first time today. We bought a small pie pumkin a week ago, and I've been trying to figure out what to do with it. I have all sorts of pumpkin recipes on top of the usual pumpkin pie. I am thinking of doing a different kind of custard with it, and I thought about cutting it into cubes for a soup or curry. And then I found a recipe online today for bean and pumpkin burgers that only calls for 1/2 cup, so if I made that I would probably still have plenty left over for some kind of dessert as well.
So here's the story. I decided to just puree the pumpkin instead of trying to do cubes or anything. But it's so hard to cut open squashes in a reasonable amount of time without injuring myself and making a huge mess. I know, because I just struggled with one the other day. So this time, as per a helpful hint (thank you Jenny, thank you Whitney!), I cooked it in the microwave for a few minutes before cutting it. I poked a bunch of holes it it first with a fork, just in case it's one of those things like an egg or a potato that explodes in the microwave if left whole. I nuked it for 4 minutes, which was probably a little long, but it was definitely effective; it was very easy to cut into quarters and remove the stem. The seeds came off of the stringy fibery stuff that they are attached to, but the stringy stuff was slipperier (is that a word?) than usual and it was hard to get it all out. I cooked it the rest of the way in the microwave because I read that it is fast and energy efficient, and I don't have to think or pay attention at all. I put it in a shallow dish with a little less than 1 cup of water, and covered it with plastic wrap. After 12 minutes on high power, it was very soft and falling off the skin. So far so good. I let it cool, and then I tried to puree it in the blender. That was a bad idea. The pumpkin didn't move up and down through the blender to puree all of it, it just sat in the same place. I added some of the cooking water, but that didn't help at all. It just sat there. I'd heard that you can make very smooth puree by pushing the pumpkin pulp through a sieve. So I did that instead. It took forever. Next time I want very smooth puree I will use a food mill. But that isn't even necessary to turn the pulp into a puree. You can pretty much just mash the pulp with a fork, until it is smooth enough to work in any recipe. So after 20 minutes of squishing pumkin through the sieve, I had a decent amount of very nice looking puree, but then it was very juicy, from all the water I'd used in the blender. I drained it in a sieve lined with a paper towel; now it looks quite nice. I think I'll have to freeze it until I find the recipe that I really really want to make.
Here's the bottom line: I'll use the very fine, smooth stuff for some kind of dessert, and the rougher stuff that I didn't put through the sieve because I got tired of it I will use for the burgers. The whole project was too tedious and time consuming, for such a small output. If I decide to do it again, I think I will do several pumpkins at once and freeze the puree. But if the burgers or any other pumpkin projects turn out exceptionally well, I will post them here!