Here is a basic pumpkin puree recipe that can be used to make all sorts of squash purees. I
developed the technique for making my own pumpkin puree because canned pumpkin was an ingredient I found unavailable in France when I moved here. The puree can be used in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.
Slicing Pumpkin and Other Squash
This is the hardest part of making your own squash purees. Be sure you use a very sharp and large knife. What you want to avoid is getting the knife stuck in the middle of the pumpkin or squash. If you do, be very careful getting it out - take your time and think about what you are doing. Lots of times it helps to slice the ends off of large squash. You can then balance the squash on the sliced end and cut down through the side.
It is a bit disappointing how little puree you end up with, but please do not let that stop you. Every two pounds of pumpkin (before slicing and cooking) will give approximately 1 cup of strained puree. Drier squashes, such
as butternut, will give higher yields. Also if you are using the puree to make a soup, there is no reason to strain it so you will end up with more puree.
Storing. This pumpkin puree recipe can be made ahead of time and stored it in the refrigerator for three days in a covered container. You can freeze the puree for up to six months in a plastic container or freezer bag. Sometimes the puree separates further with freezing and thawing and then the only thing to do is strain it again, so you'll end up with less than you thought you had.
Uses. Replacing canned puree with homemade will result in more flavorful recipes, making it well worth the little effort it takes to make your own. Try it, for example, in this pumpkin souffle recipe.
Begin by washing and drying the squash thoroughly. In this recipe, the rind is going to be getting cozy with the meat, so you want the rind very clean.
Slice the squash into manageable pieces. Use a spoon to scrape away all of the fiber and seeds.
Place a large vegetable steamer in a large pot and fill the pot with about an inch of water. Place the sliced squash on top of the steamer, cover the pot and place it on medium heat.
Bring the water to a low boil and allow the squash to simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Test the squash with a sharp knife. As soon as the knife goes through easily, the squash is done. Don't over cook.
Remove the squash from the pot and allow it cool on a plate. Once it is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scrape away the flesh from the peel. Place the flesh in a food processor and blend until smooth.
If you are using the puree for a soup, you are done. For most other recipes, such as flans, mousses, souffles, tarts and pies, you need to strain the puree so that it is more concentrated.
To strain, place the puree in a fine meshed sieve and place the sieve over a bowl to catch the liquid. Allow the puree to strain for 30 minutes.