I guess there are as many ways to roast pumpkin as there are people roasting pumpkins. I decided to do my bit and tell you about the method which I have learnt to use.
The main problem for me has always been that the pumpkin I’ve roasted is very watery. I really was fighting to get the consistency like that of canned, solid-pack pumpkin. Finally I found a simple way, and that I would like to share with you. Hope you find it useful as well if you haven’t tried that out yet!
My attempts to get perfectly roasted pumpkin
When I roasted pumpkin for the first times I used this method from Elana Amsterdam. I hope you are familiar with her brilliant blog. The method worked otherwise well, but I don’t know what I did wrong since each and every time my roasted pumpkin turned out too watery. I wanted to have as thick pumpkin as the solid-pack pumpkin they sell in a can.
I thought I must develop my own way to get the consistency I want. Last year I made several more or less successful experiments, but unfortunately I didn’t jot them down. Shame on me.
Keeping my eye on the fact that I wanted to do plenty of experiments with roasting the pumpkin and develop many pumpkin recipes, I have grown pumpkins worth at least 175 lbs (approximately 80 kg) this year. A rough estimate. So, it seems that we are going to eat only pumpkin during the winter… Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin custard, cream of pumpkin soup, pumpkin spice latte… Actually, I could imagine much worse things.
I vaguely remember that last year I got the best results when after removing the seeds I cut the pumpkin into approximately 3 × 3 inch (7.5 × 7.5 cm) cubes and roasted those at a relatively mild temperature for quite a long time. Like this.
The problem were the burned tops. Roasting at a milder temperature reduced burning, but the tops got easily dry.
This year I tried the same method. I cut one half of 18 lbs (8.2 kg) weighing pumpkin into cubes and roasted the cubes in 350 °F (175 °C) oven for 1.5 hours. Quite okay, but there was some fluid separating. Next I cubed the other half and roasted the pieces for 2 hours in milder, 300 °F (150 °C) oven. Better, but still a bit too much fluid.
The next batch I tried to roast a half an hour longer. Again better, but not perfect. All in all, I prefer milder temperature and longer roasting time to get rid of the excess fluid and to guarantee soft and tender flesh which is not burned.
I thought it wasn’t anyway a good idea to cube the pumpkin. Moreover, it was quite laborious to cut those cubes. I thought pumpkin halves might work better after all.
I roasted one half of a big pumpkin so that the cut surface was facing up. During roasting there was a puddle in the center and it looked kind of funny. I was wondering how to get rid of the fluid. I decided to let the roasted pumpkin cool down completely and then remove the fluid, but after cooling down the fluid had almost totally disappeared! The fluid had somehow soaked into the flesh. As you can guess, the result was watery.
Maybe it was better to roast the pumpkin so that the cut surface would be facing down? The pumpkin didn’t produce any fluid while roasting, but during cooling down and scooping out the seeds it was flooding. I got somewhat desperate and was wondering for the umpteenth time how to get rid of the excess fluid.
I was also thinking of roasting a whole pumpkin but since I have heard of horror stories about pumpkins exploding in the oven no matter how much you have poked or pricked them with a knife. I thought a half of a pumpkin is the largest piece I dare to roast.
I still tried once my method from last year and cubed the pumpkin. After roasting I got really much fluid, so I mean REALLY much. I was desperate. How on earth I could get thick roasted pumpkin instead of that colorless, watery and tasteless stuff?
Eureka! It suddenly hit me that I simply could strain the roasted pumpkin. I could roast a half of a pumpkin, remove the seeds and strain the flesh. Worked like a charm!
So, let’s take a closer look of the method I currently use.
First I take a nice, big pumpkin, rinse it and pat dry with a towel. The pumpkin below is whatever giant variety, unfortunately I don’t remember exactly which one. I ordered plenty of pumpkin seeds but the small varieties didn’t make it. Well, that’s nothing new since I’m a lousy gardener… To be honest I’m extremely surprised that I could grow that many pumpkins myself.
So, let’s take that cleaned pumpkin. This beauty weighs 17 lbs (7.8 kg).
I take the biggest knife I own (which is after all not that big-sized compared to the pumpkin…), sharpen it and halve the pumpkin.
Here are the halves. Actually, at this point you could scoop out the seeds, but I’ve decided to do that after roasting. Somehow I feel that less precious pumpkin is lost then.
I take one half and place it face down on the largest roasting pan I have. This pan I have bought from Ikea. By the way, I don’t use the grill rack here.
I put the whole thing in the preheated 300 °F (150 °C) oven. I let the pumpkin roast for 2.5 hours. Actually, I think 2 hours would be enough, but I just want to ensure that the flesh is soft and tender. Some say you can overdo the pumpkin but I didn’t have that problem. So far.
After that 2.5 hours I take the pumpkin from the oven…
… and let it cool down for a few hours until it reaches room temperature. It gets a bit wrinkled.
Then I turn it the other way around…
… and scoop out the seeds with a spoon…
… or if I want to do it in a quick and dirty way, I simply grab the seeds out by hand. Clean hand.
If I’m in a hurry, I just scoop out the flesh and place it in a large bowl. Then I simply pour away the excess fluid.
That can be a sufficient method to remove the excess fluid especially if you let the pumpkin stand in a bowl for a few hours — or even better, overnight — and then pour away the fluid. But to ensure that all the excess fluid is removed and I reach that thick, canned-pumpkin-like consistency, I line a strainer with cheesecloth and place it on the largest saucepan I own. Then I scoop the flesh in there…
… level the surface with a spoon…
… cover with the excess cheesecloth and let the fluid drop nicely to the saucepan.
After some 3 or 4 hours (or on the next day) I take the cheesecloth with the pumpkin inside, turn it upside down and drop the pumpkin into a large saucepan…
… and purée the pumpkin with immersion blender. Well, this is not really an absolutely necessary step, but to ensure the smooth texture, I often purée the pumpkin. For me it’s important to have smooth-textured pumpkin especially when I make soup, pumpkin spice latte or other drinks from pumpkin.
Actually, if you have a really good blender you don’t have to scoop out the flesh after roasting, you can save time and trouble — at the same time getting more fibers and nutrients — by placing the flesh and the skin in the blender and blend everything until smooth. The color will be more vibrant and the consistency thicker. You just have to get rid of that possible excess fluid somehow… Well, straining is good for that, too.
My main point is to strain the pumpkin flesh after roasting. Either I do it in a strainer covered with cheesecloth, or then I simply place the flesh in a large bowl which I put in the fridge, keep it there overnight and on the next day I simply pour away the fluid which has separated from the flesh. It’s as simple as that. I can easily regulate the thickness of the pumpkin with the straining time. The longer the straining, the thicker the consistency.
This is the roasting method I’ve used this year. Could be that next year I’m going to develop even better method, who knows. I would be delighted to hear from your method how to get perfectly roasted, thick pumpkin what you can use for soups, pies, custards, you name it. All thoughts and ideas are welcome!
This was a bit different type of post this time. As I now have plenty of roasted pumpkin, next week I’m naturally going to publish a pumpkin recipe. Most probably after that as well. Let’s see if I’m going to have a whole month of pumpkin recipes 🙂 On the other hand I fancy something chocolatey as I got my teeth into some mouth-watering peanut butter bar experiments last week…