When I was young my mom had a boss who she really loved, her name is Perry-o. Perry-o has long gray hair in a braid down her back and she always seems to have a smile on her face. She would host holiday parties at her home, which was off the grid. I remember her husband David showing us the big batteries they used for the wind generator that powered their house. And running with my brother through the many gardens they tended for produce and flowers to sell at the local market. They were probably the first hippies I ever met and I think they are awesome.

Perry-o told me a recipe that I use every year, on how to make your own pumpkin puree. Not only is it easy, but it’s much more flavorful than canned pumpkin and brighter in color! I will never use canned pumpkin again. Let me know how you like your own made-from-scratch pumpkin puree!

How to Cook a Whole Pumpkin

Preheat your oven to 400ºF and have a baking sheet with sides or a baking dish ready. The pumpkin will release some liquid while baking, so you need to roast it on a pan with sides. Rinse off the pumpkin. You can pierce the pumpkin with a knife to allow for ventilation but I typically do not – just put the whole pumpkin in the oven.

Place the pumpkin on the baking sheet and transfer to the oven. For a 2.5 to 3 pound pumpkin, it will need to roast for about 60 minutes at 400ºF. But longer is better, I typically roast the pumpkin for 2 hours.
The pumpkin is ready when the flesh is darker, and the skin can be easily pierced with a fork. Be sure it’s dark and not just a slightly darker orange color, it should be closer to brown in color. The pumpkin will also have deflated in the oven, then you know it’s really well cooked.
Allow the pumpkin to cool and then cut it in half. Be sure to let it cool for a couple of hours, an afternoon even; because you do not want to cut into a steaming hot pumpkin center!
Use a large spoon to scrape out the seeds and then just peel the flesh right off of the pumpkin meat. It should peel off easily, if it’s hard to remove than you needed to roast it longer. Then just throw the pumpkin in the blender and puree! Use right away and freeze the rest. I tend to freeze 2-3 cups of puree in a freezer bag. Sometimes I have 2 bags leftover after making a pumpkin pie. When you want to use the frozen puree, just let it defrost and pour off the extra liquid.