Oct 10, 2011

Pumpkin Puree: Homemade vs. Store Bought (with recipes)

Prices still current in 2017! Yay for Trader Joe's!

I bought some sugar pumpkins at Trader Joe’s and roasted them to make puree yesterday, so I thought I’d do a price comparison on homemade pumpkin puree vs. canned pumpkin.

Homemade vs Store Bought Pumpkin Puree

One can of organic pumpkin puree at Trader Joe’s is $1.99, and contains approximately 3.5 1/2 cup servings, or about 1.75 cups.

Sugar pumpkins are $1.99 each at Trader Joe’s - they're fairly small, which I think makes for better flavor. I tried to pick pumpkins that were heavy for their weight, so the flesh would be moist and dense. Three pumpkins yielded about 6 cups. That works out to $1.74 per 1.75 cups, and I also got about two cups of roasted pumpkin seeds out of my pumpkins. But the price per unit doesn’t factor in the time or energy costs it took to make the puree.

So I’ll call it about even. After all, making pumpkin puree requires a fair amount of effort, while canned pumpkin has a huge convenience factor in its favor.

Actually, because the pumpkins I bought weren’t organic, the canned pumpkin probably costs less. But as far as I know, pumpkins are pretty low risk when it comes to pesticide and fertilizer residue. Plus, fresh pumpkin tastes phenomenal and canned pumpkin raises BPA concerns for me.

Want to try it for yourself? Here’s how I made my pumpkin puree:

Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Makes about 2 cups per pumpkin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a small sugar pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and strings, saving the seeds if desired. Place the pumpkin cut side down on a lined baking sheet and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until you can easily insert a knife through the pumpkin.

Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool on the pan for about 30 minutes.

Place a food mill fitted with the smallest blade over a large bowl. Scoop the pumpkin flesh out of the shell and transfer to food mill. Pass the pumpkin through the food mill, scraping down the side but not pushing the pumpkin through the holes. Use the puree as you would canned pumpkin.

Note: I have a food mill from my homemade baby food days, so that's what I used. It makes for a nice puree that still has a bit of texture, but if you don't have a food mill, I *think* you should be okay with a food processor. Speaking of baby food, you could mix the puree with some applesauce, or add in a little cinnamon to give your baby a new taste.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Separate the pumpkin seeds from the strings but do not wash them (they have a lot more flavor this way). Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil per cup of seeds and sprinkle with fine sea salt to taste. Spread the seeds out in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for approximately two hours or until golden brown, stirring every half hour.


Robyn S. said...

There may not be any difference in the cost, but the first year I did pumpkin puree, I overheard my daughter telling one of her friends as they were making pumpkin bars with the puree "yeah, this is real pumpkin that my mom made, not that icky stuff from the can". It made it worth every single second of my time!!

Chief Family Officer said...

That is awesome! Yay!

LC said...

If you make the pumpkin puree with a food processor, you can make a huge quantity. Then you can store this in convenient freezer dishes to freeze for later use. You can use it for awhile this way.

You might also want to factor in the costs of roasted pumpkin seeds, since those also are sold in the markets.

The taste of the fresh pumpkin always beats the canned for me!

Chief Family Officer said...

Good to know it works with the food processor - thanks!