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Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree and Muffins
Fall is the time for pumpkins - and I don't mean just for carving. Many people don't realize that the pumpkin you carve could actually be food for your family as well. Pumpkins are loaded with vitamins and nutrients and fresh pumpkin puree is so much better for you that the canned version from the grocery store. Making your own pumpkin puree is fairly easy and we love to use ours to make pumpkin muffins all year long.
Many people grow their own pumpkins: in fact I have grown pumpkins in the past purely for making pumpkin puree. Growing your own would be the cheapest route to take in making your own pumpkin puree. However I noticed at the grocery store this week that a rather large pumpkin was only $4.99. In the past a pumpkin this size has yielded at least 12 cups of puree - or 12 batches of pumpkin muffins for us. To get a vegetable that rich in vitamins into my kids that easily - $4.99 is well worth the money to me.
Here is how I get the most for my money out of a pumpkin. We purchase a large pumpkin at the store. We do not carve it right away though. Carving it and letting it sit for more than a couple of days will lead to rotting - which means no puree. So we carve ours on Halloween or the day before and on November 1st I make the puree. Of course when we carve the pumpkin we save all the seeds and roast them. My husband loves to snack on these and the seeds from a large pumpkin usually generate a couple of Ziploc bags full of roasted seeds.
When you are ready to make the puree take a large knife and cut the pumpkin into 8 pieces. Place on a couple of baking sheets and cook in the oven on 300 for an hour to an hour and a half. When the pumpkin is tender remove it from the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes or so. When it is cooled, start spooning out the pumpkin into a large bowl. When it is about half full take a hand mixer and mash up the pumpkin until it is very fine. Sometimes I have had to add a little water, but make sure to only add a very small amount at a time as it can get runny very quickly.
Once the pumpkin is mashed with no chunks in it, store in Ziploc bags in one cup portions. Freeze flat and use all year round for muffins, pies or quick breads. You can even add the puree to cake mixes. Here is our favorite pumpkin muffin recipe.
1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large bowl add the sugar, pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well to combine. In a smaller bowl stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until moistened. Spoon into greased muffin tins, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. Yields 1 dozen.
This recipe is very versatile. I use it to make a quick bread as well. I also like to add a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to the batter and give as holiday gifts to the kid's teachers. If you are making it as a bread bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. My kids really like for me to make mini muffins out of these. I have a mini muffin pan that makes 24 little muffins. These are so easy for the kids to eat for snacks. One batch will yield 48 mini muffins. These muffins also freeze very well, so I frequently make them ahead of time and thaw in the microwave for 1 minute when we are ready to eat them. This makes a yummy breakfast on a busy day. So this year don't just carve your pumpkin - EAT IT!