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Nov 17, 2004 01:59 PM

Fresh pumpkin for pie

  • b

Is it really worth it to cook a fresh pumpkin for a pumpkin pie? I always used a can of Libby's and made a great pie.

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  1. I bought a pie pumpkin at the farmer's market out of a misplaced feeling of nostalgia...halved, roasted, and pureed it and realized it was way too watery. I combed through my back issues of CI thinking I'd seen something about cooking or perhaps even using paper towels to rid the squash of excess H2O but couldn't find anything. I cooked the puree in a saucepan with the spices until it looked like what comes out of the Libby's can, then followed my usual recipie. I can't say it was really all that much work, but it tasted almost the same as the canned. If canned pumpkin was full of preservatives or other junk I would use fresh again, but I don't think that is the case.

    6 Replies
    1. re: christine

      The usual method to getting rid of the excess liquid is to drain it overnight in a cheesecloth-lined sieve or colander. Fresh pumpkin is very nice, and I made puree from five this fall for freezing. That said, fresh pumpkin takes a lot of work, and canned pumpkin is a good product, one of the few things that come in a can that deserve a spot in most good cooks' kitchens. (Off-topic, but I would add canned chipotle peppers, good quality canned tomatoes, Goya canned chickpeas, and canned coconut milk as a few of the others, at least the ones you would find in this cook's kitchen.)

      1. re: curiousbaker

        The thing to remember when cooking w/fresh pumpkin is not to use the traditional halloween pumpkin. You need to use a cheese pumpkin or a sugar pumpkin. Jack O'latern pumpkins are too watery to be used in cooking. There's an article in the NY Times today that talks about also gives a recipe for a squash pie that looks intriging...

        1. re: kitnimbus

          Absolutely, but I find even sugar pumpkins usually need draining.

          1. re: kitnimbus

            I had one of the best pumpkin pies ever made with a French pumpkin - aka - cinderella pumpkin. our friend who is an accomplished baker said that these pumpkins really make a difference. As good as the pie was, I'm going to give it a try. Her recipe was sort of custardy: contains evaporated milk and eggs.

        2. re: christine

          I once bought a can of pumpkin that was organic--bad idea! Didn't look great (it was very light colored) and it didn't tasted very "pumpkiny"

        3. In a word, no. But if you feel compelled to try it, roast your pumpkin instead of cooking it on the top of the stove for a drier product. I think one place home cooks go wrong is steaming or simmering it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Dorothy

            A couple of weeks ago, I did roast a sugar pie pumpkin--for my rats! Wasn't too impressed with the flavor, though, that's why I was wondering if fresh pumpkins makes a better pie.

          2. e
            Eldon Kreider

            The pumpkins used for canned pumpkin are a different variety than are generally shown in farmers markets and are closer to squash in character. The field pumpkins, often Howden or Connecticult Field variety or derivatives thereof, used for ornamental purposes are too stringy and watery for pies. Sugar pumpkins were often used for pies but aren't the greatest for flavor even though they are much better than field pumpkins. Hubbard squash makes a better "pumpkin" pie or pudding than any round orange pumpkin.

            1. I think it is worth it, at least to try it out. The biggest pain for me is the peeling, as throwing it in the oven and letting it roast a while is certainly easy enough. The flavor of the pumpkin is much lighter and "fresher" than when I use canned pumpkin, and the color is much lighter as well. I really like the difference. Plus I like having pumpkins around in the fall and then you have something to do with them when you're ready.

              1. Try putting 1/3 to 1/2 of the puree amount in as butternut.

                Butternut is sweeter then most pumpkins and, once the spices are in, you'd be hard pressed to distinguish the difference, because a lot of what people's taste memory of pumpkin revolves around is actually the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, mace mixtures that go in for seasoning.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bobzemuda

                  After the first time using butternut squash, I have vowed to never return to pumpkin. The "meal" of it is finer, it's a much more pleasant taste, and it's SO much easier to work with. I throw it in the oven and roast until it's done, when the skin and squash underneath "gives". Cool slightly, cut in half, scoop out the cooked squash, and put it in the food processor to puree, then freeze it in ice cube trays, pop out and keep in freezer bags. I got a HUGE butternut squash this year for very little money, and been using that squash since, for pie, soup, in breakfast oatmeal, in an orzo's fantastic, cheap, and VERY tasty.