Using puree from fresh pumpkin or squash in recipes that call for the kind from a can is definitely worth spending a little extra time and effort. The taste blows canned pumpkin and squash out of the water – it’s sweeter, and more flavorful. It’s also brighter in color, and has a smoother, more creamy texture. Make it in larger batches in advance and freeze, then you will have it whenever you need it and will not have to resort to using canned. Directions follow the photos.
There’s no set amount to use here, but my philosophy is that if you are doing this, you may as well go big and buy as many pumpkins or squash that you can get into your roasting pan. The puree will keep in the freezer in airtight containers for up to two months.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash the pumpkins/squash thoroughly and dry them to make them easier to handle when cutting.
Cut the pumpkins/squash in half. Scoop out all of the seeds, but don’t worry if there are additional, stringy guts hanging on.
Arrange the pumpkins/squash face down on a large roasting pan. Pour water into the pan to cover the bottom 1/2 inch. Cover the pan completely with foil and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the pumpkins/squash can easily be pierced with a fork (fork tender).
Remove from the oven, remove the foil and allow the pumpkins/squash to cool.
Using a large spoon, scrape out the flesh from the pumpkins/squash and discard the skins. Transfer the flesh to a food processor and process in small batches until the puree is smooth, with no visible lumps at all.
Force the puree through a fine strainer to catch any small pieces of skin or pith.
Put the puree in a triple ply cheesecloth (you an do this by folding a cheesecloth into thirds, making three layers) and place inside a colander over a bowl in the fridge and allow additional liquid to drain off for at least two hours.
Remove the puree from the cheesecloth and seal into airtight containers. It will keep in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for two months.