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HELP!!! Tried to make pumpkin puree from sugar pumpkins

I baked several small sugar pie pumpkins to make pumpkin pie from scratch. I just pureed it and it taste almost like nothing. Doesn't taste like the can of Libby's Pumpkin Pie mix. Is this normal and I am suppose to add all the spices myself? is it suppose to be sweet at all? Want to make sure I am doing this right, or else I will have to go out and buy Libby's before Turkey Day. Thanks

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  1. Individual pumpkins vary quite a bit in sweetness, so I usually buy some extra and process them separately, so I can leave aside the ones that are "duds". In addition, I've found that supermarket pumpkins (and acorn squash, etc.) in recent years seem to have become overall rather flavorless--perhaps from being grown too quickly without many nutrients or something? I try to stick with pumpkins from small local farms, but even then it can be a bit of a gamble.

    1. Are you comparing it to a pie mix that can be put straight into the shell, or a puree that needs spices and sweetening? Sometimes I use a canned puree in my pumpkin bread, but I still season that. Puree from butternut or kabocha squashes is similar to the plain canned puree. I don't know about sugar pumpkins.

      Doesn't Emeril say something like 'where I come from, xxx doesn't come preseasoned'?

      1. I hate to tell you, but your best bet would be to throw your puree into the compost pile and start over--with Butternut squash.

        It is a very common misconception that "sugar" or "pie" pumpkins sold in grocery stores and farmers markets alike are actually appropriate for making pies.

        The round, orange "pie" and "halloween" type pumpkins are varieties in the species "Cucurbita pepo," which (surprisingly) contains both pumpkins and a variety of summer squashes---most of which are marked by a high water content and muted flavors

        Libby's and many gardeners, however, choose to grow varieties within the species "Cucurbita moschata", (commercially the cultivar 'Dickinson') which most people would recognize as a "butternut-type" squash. They are flavorful and make delicious pies. You may find them in farmers markets by a variety of names including "butternut" "amish neck-pumpkin" "long Island cheese pumpkin" or "Cindarella pumpkin"

        However, I have had some mixed success using such pumpkins in savory dishes, specifically traditional Moroccan "couscous with seven vegetables." You might consider making a savory dish with this puree--use it, for example, as a base for potato-squash soup with lots of cream.

        1 Reply
        1. Pumpkin Pie Mix is not the same as a can of pumpkin. If you use a can of pumpkin pie mix, it comes pre-sweetened and spiced. If you google search something like "Libby's" pumpkin pie recipe, you can figure out what to add to make it taste like what you are thinking of.

          Also, slow roasting the pumpkin in the oven helps bring out the flavor.

          1. oh you would need to add your spices! punpkins and squash are a subtle flavor. I'm not sure how much you have, but the spices you are looking for:
            cassia or cinnamon

            some of those...
            here this link might help!

            1. Don't listen to that guy telling you to throw your puree away.

              To remove more water from the puree and concentrate its flavor and prevent a soggy pie, either:

              Simmer the puree slowly on the stove until it is thicker and probably a wee bit darker in shade. Leave the pot uncovered and stir occasionally.

              Or pour the puree into a colander (lined with a double layer of cheesecloth or a single layer of clean kitchen towel), set that over a bowl, and let it drip away over night in the fridge.

              2 Replies
              1. re: stilton

                hum... i just did the same thing Vanity021 did tonight. i steamed my pumpkin (Cause i'm sleepy). i'm straining it right now. will report back tomorrow. mine is pretty flavorless as well. i wonder if i should just get myself a can....

                1. re: jeniyo

                  Yes on the can.

                  No on throwing it away. Mix with other gourds and cream and stuff and make soup. Pumpkin soup is delish.

              2. Sugar Pie pumpkins, if they're really what the sign says they are, should have a slightly sweet, pumpkin flavor to them. As everyone has said, you do need to add sugar & spices yourself. But the squash itself (pumpkins are just a special kind of squash) should have a nice flavor, like a butternut squash. I agree that you could try simmering off excess moisture and see if that concentrates the flavor at all. Try adding sugar and pie spices to a small portion of it and see if it's starting to taste like you think it should.

                Even roasted squash can have too much moisture in it. I grew Dickenson, the one used for commercial pumpkin (doesn't look like a pumpkin at all, btw), and it needed extra cooking to drive off moisture even after roasting. They were monsters, over 20 lbs, way more than 1 or 2 pies worth!

                1. There's a BIG difference between Libby's Pumpkin Pie mix (which contains sweeteners and spices) and Libby's Pumpkin puree (which contains just pumpkin). What you made is directly equivalent to Libby's Pumpkin puree. Most pumpkin pie recipes call for plain canned pumpkin (not the Pumpkin Pie mix), so if you want to use your puree, then you should search for one of these recipes.

                  I never make pies with the Pumpkin Pie mix - I just use plain pumpkin puree, typically homemade, and the results are always excellent. Using the plain puree also allows you to control the sweetness (and type of sweetener, so you can avoid have highly processed sweeteners in your pie) and the spices.

                  If you feel that your puree is too liquidy, then you can drain it in cheesecloth or a dish towel, as other posters have suggested. I find that roasting the pumpkins in the oven (350 for 45m - 1hour) results in the best pumpkin flavor, and a thick puree that doesn't need to be drained.

                  1. First of all, as adventuresinbaking pointed out, there’s a difference between Libby’s solid packed pumpkin or pumkin puree, both of which are 100% pumpkin, and Libby’s pumpkin pie mix, which includes spices. So your fresh pumpkin puree can’t be expected to taste like the pumpkin pie mix. You’ll need, as others have said, to add your own spices. I like light brown sugar, ground ginger and cinnamon, and some freshly grated nutmeg.

                    Second, and probably too late for this year, although you’ll find plenty of recommendations for using sugar pumpkins for pies, in my experience a cheese pumpkin makes a superior pie. I had made a pie from a sugar pumpkin a few years back and found I had to fiddle with it more than I thought should be necessary to get the consistency I wanted. A year or two later I was having a conversation with the farmer at the farmers market who was selling various kinds of squashes. He told me that he sells sugar pumpkins because people ask for them, but that his family far prefers a cheese pumpkin for making pie. He said it was more dense and less stringy. I gave it a try, using the recipe from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s “Pie and Pastry Bible.” My mom said it was the first pumpkin pie she’d ever liked.

                    1. Baking and roasting are better techniques for cooking pumpkins and squashes for puree--whatever you intend to do with it eventually. Dry heat concentrates flavor.

                      1. I've also been disappointed by the taste of sugar pie pumpkins. The texture is good, but the taste is lacking. The cheese pumpkins others mentioned are too watery. For Thanksgiving, I'm going to use an ambercup squash. They're the orange relatives of buttercup and turban squashes. I cooked one yesterday - just took it off the front porch, put it one a sheet pan and roasted it whole. They have very hard skins and mine was frozen to boot. The smell as it cooked was heavenly. After it was very soft, I peeled back the skin and scooped out the flesh around the seeds. It tasted so sweet and lovely, we had some for supper last night. The flesh is dry, soft, not stringy at all. It would make a terrific filling for ravioli too.

                        1. Definitely strain it. If you don't have cheesecloth (I don't), you can line a strainer with coffee filters. Pour in the puree and let it sit for a few hours, if you have the time.

                          I baked a sugar pie pumpkin and made puree recently, then turned it into pumpkin muffins. You definitely need to season, but I thought it had a nice flavor.