I prefer fresh pumpkin over the canned that you find in the store. If you are fortunate enough to have a garden, you may grow you own! My favorite variety is the sugar pumpkin, which makes wonderful pie! I usually purchase a couple every year to prepare for my holiday baking.
There are many ways that you can cook your fresh pumpkin to prepare it to use in your recipes. My preference is to bake it, only because I can cut it up, put it in the oven, and let it cook without having to watch over it.
First, turn your oven on to about 400°. To prepare your pumpkin you will have to cut it into chunks. Now, the size of your pumpkin will determine how you tackle this part. If you have the small sugar pumpkins, you can just cut them in half, scoop out the insides (don’t throw away the seeds!), then cut those halves into smaller pieces.
I then get out my roasting pan and rack and place the pieces on the rack.
Pour a couple of cups of water into the bottom of the pan, cover the entire pan and pumpkin with heavy duty foil. Place into the oven, and let it bake.
It usually takes about an hour or so, depending upon the size/thickness of the pumpkin pieces. Pierce the flesh of the pumpkin pieces with a fork to check for doneness. When the pumpkin is soft enough, remove the pan from the oven, place the pumpkin pieces in a bowl, and let them cool off. This just makes it easier to handle the pieces.
When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, take a spoon and scoop out the flesh and place it into a bowl. When all of the pumpkin has been scooped out of the skin into a bowl.
I place it into my food processor, and puree it until it is smooth, and all of the lumps are removed. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender.
You can use the pumpkin puree right away or freeze it.