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How to Make Pumpkin Puree and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It's pumpkin season! Make the most of this fall staple with homemade pumpkin puree for pies, soups, bread, and more. Don't waste the seeds! They make a delicious and nutritious roasted snack.

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Recently my husband and the kids took a solo grocery shopping trip while I was working a Saturday shift. When I got home, my son couldn’t wait to show me what they’d found at the store: pie pumpkins. The first of the season! He was especially excited because we didn’t end up growing any pumpkins this year.

He was so excited because he thought we’d be able to make them into pie as soon as I got home from work. He didn’t realize there is a bit of a process involved in getting the pumpkins ready to turn into pie. Thankfully he wasn’t too disappointed when I told him we’d get started on it first thing in the morning, and that we wouldn’t just make pie, we’d make toasted pumpkin seeds too.

While transforming pumpkins from their original form and turning them into something edible takes a few steps, it isn’t difficult. Most people buy pie pumpkins with the intention of baking with the puree, so they scoop out the seeds and throw them away. But don’t waste those seeds! Roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious, nutritious (fiber and antioxidants and vitamins, oh my!), and very easy to make. Plus, using the seeds instead of throwing them away helps to cut down on waste.

Tip: While big jack-o-lantern pumpkins aren’t great for pureeing and baking, their seeds are just as good for roasting! If you’re carving jack-o-lanterns this year, set aside the seeds to roast later.

It makes the most sense to roast your pumpkin seeds at the same time you make your puree, so I’ve included both recipes here.

The only ingredients you need to make both are:

-Two Pie Pumpkins

-Salt (for the roasted seeds)

-Olive oil (for the roasted seeds)

You’ll also need a crockpot and food processor (for the pumpkin puree) and a parchment-lined baking sheet (for the roasted seeds).

To make the puree:

  1. Carefully cut the pumpkins in half with a large kitchen knife.

  2. Use a spoon to scrape out the stringy orange membranes and seeds. Don’t worry about separating the seeds from the orange strings just yet. Just set them in a bowl for now.

  3. Once the seeds and membranes are set aside, place the pumpkin halves in a crockpot and cook on low until the flesh is soft (about 4 hours). If the pumpkins don’t fit in your crockpot this way, cut them one more time into quarters.

  4. Remove the cooked pumpkin from the crockpot and allow it to cool for a few minutes.

  5. Use a spoon to scoop the pumpkin flesh out of the skin and place the flesh into a food processor.

  6. Puree the pumpkin flesh in the food processor until it reaches a smooth consistency (just like the canned pumpkin you buy at the store...but much fresher and tastier).

  7. Your pumpkin puree is ready to use!

  8. Store any extra puree in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a week. Pumpkin puree also freezes well. Store in the freezer for up to six months.

To Prep the Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

  1. Carefully cut the pumpkins in half with a large kitchen knife.

  2. Use a spoon to scrape out the stringy orange membranes and seeds. Don’t worry about separating the seeds from the orange strings just yet. Just set them in a bowl for now.

  3. Fill the bowl with enough water to cover the seeds. Add a generous amount of salt to the bowl. Soaking the seeds this way will help the membranes separate from the seeds.

  4. After about 20 minutes, scoop any seeds that have floated to the top out of the water and place them on a towel to dry.

  5. Drain the rest of the seeds with a strainer. Separate the rest of these seeds from the orange membranes by hand and set them on the towel to dry with the rest of the seeds.

  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with a generous amount of olive oil.

  7. When the pumpkin seeds are completely dry, place them on the baking sheet. Spread them out into a single layer, making sure they all get coated in a light layer of olive oil in the process.

  8. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds with salt

  9. Bake until the seeds begin to turn a nice toast brown (but are not burnt). This should take about 30 minutes depending on your oven. If the seeds are gummy or overly chewy, they are not ready yet. They should be fairly crisp.

  10. Serve them as soon as they are cool enough to eat. Store in the pantry or an airtight container.

Pumpkin puree can be used for more than pie. It’s great in pumpkin rolls, pumpkin soup (topped with a roasted pumpkin seed garnish, of course), pumpkin pasta sauce, and even pumpkin mac-n-cheese. It even works as baby food!

That said, my son didn’t want to hear about any of these other amazing and magical uses for pumpkin puree. I’m happy to report that by the end of the day, we had assembled, baked, and eaten an entire pumpkin pie. The seeds didn't last long either. Pumpkins are one of my favorite foods for zero-waste cooking. We used every bit of the pumpkin except for the skins and the orange membranes, which went into our composter to nourish future plants. We even saved a couple of the seeds to plant next year!

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