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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How much pureed pumpkin does a Jack o'lantern make?

I strained the pumpkin in a mesh sieve, saving the liquid for a pot of soup

In case you couldn't have guessed, the pie in yesterday's post was a pumpkin pie, using pumpkin that I cooked on Saturday.

Saturday was a cold and gray day. Nothing better than spending a few hours baking to warm things up. And as it IS the end of October, cooking up one of my Jack o'lantern pumpkins seemed most appropriate.

After last week's post on pumpkin pie frugal hacks, I decided to actually keep track of what 1 Jack o'lantern yields after cooking.

I used an 11 pound Jack o'lantern (if you remember, I paid 19 cents a pound, so $2.09 for the pumpkin).

I baked the pumpkin, stem included, cut in half, seeds scooped out, for about 2 hours at 300 degrees.

I scooped the flesh out with a spoon and ran it through the food processor. With each batch, I then put it in a mesh strainer over a cup, to strain excess liquid. I strained for about 10 minutes per batch.

My yields from one pumpkin:

10 cups of strained puree
3 cups of strained liquid, which I added to a pot of pumpkin soup that evening
2 cups of seeds for roasting

I could have strained the puree longer, and achieved a consistency similar to canned pumpkin. That likely would have reduced my yields to about 8 cups.

pumpkin soup for 4, using 2 cups of puree and all of the straining liquid,
plus a container of frozen ham stock

For the 10 cups of puree, my cost, then is about 41 cents per pound. Had I strained it further, my cost would have been about 52 cents per pound. If I count in the cost of the oven, it would add about 30 cents total. So my cost of pumpkin puree ranges from 48 cents per pound, to 60 cents per pound. And the seeds and soup liquid were a bonus, as was the heated kitchen.

about 2 cups of seeds for roasting and snacking in the afternoon

Not too bad!

and even this wasn't "wasted". The hungry compost heap "ate" it all.

And this is all that was left over.


  1. Very frugal, indeed! Guess I should have bought a pumpkin!

    Just out of curiosity, do you ever use any other squash in pies? My dad was from Rhode Island, and his mother, my grandmother, used to make squash pies. Though my Grandpa had a large garden with a good yield, after moving to Ohio she would purchase a specific canned squash for those pies whenever they got up to New England to visit. I remember it having somewhat of a greenish tinge (to gold/brown) and have often wondered what type of squash that was.

    1. Hi Cat,
      According to Carol at CTonabudget (she's in Connecticut) butternut squash pie is more common that pumpkin, in some parts of New England. So maybe that was the type of pie your grandmother made.

      I do make pie with other squashes, if that's what I have. Pumpkin just happens to be least expensive for me, most of the time.

  2. Pumpkins are interesting. I guess I thought you could use just about any kind of pumpkin and make puree but I don't that is true. Last year, my neighbor put a pumpkin on my front steps. I don't know what kind but I'm sure it was a carving pumpkin but not terribly large. I just assumed I could make pumpkin puree and pie out of it after Halloween. So I did. The results were kind of terribly. It was watery, it wasn't tasty, it wasn't at all what I thought it should look like. I thought it would look like butternut squash puree. I now wonder if I should have strained it, or even if it didn't look good, maybe just used it? Maybe pumpkins taste different than squash. Our butternut squash is sweet and yummy. I ended up throwing it away but should I have used it anyway?


    1. Hi Alice,
      carving pumpkins don't have as much flavor as pie pumpkins, and they have a higher water content. However, once the pumpkin is strained or cooked down, and spices are added, honestly, my family can't taste the difference in a pie or cake.

      Some years, I have gotten a bunch of free carving pumpkins, in November. I have cooked all of those, gladly. Maybe my family isn't very picky?

  3. I cook pumpkins too. In fact I ask my friends for their left-over decorative pumpkins (whole and not cut into) and cook them as well. I roast them in the oven, scoop out the flesh and seeds like you but I strain mine several times. Once before I freeze them in bags and again before I'm ready to cook it in pies or breads. I lose probably 1/4 of every cup of frozen/thawed pumpkin. So when I freeze it in bags I always add more than I'd need for cooking.

    I've found the jack o lantern pumpkins have worked out quite well for making pies, breads, and soups as long as they are strained again after being thawed.

    1. Hi Linda,
      I usually pour off the liquid from thawed pumpkin, and use it as part of the liquid in a pie, cake or soup. The pumpkin liquid can be mixed with powdered milk, for part of the milk/cream used in pie.

      The Libby's can for 1 pie is 15 ounces. So I put about 17 ounces or so in each container, of home cooked, strained pumpkin. Do you put about 20 ounces in a bag/container for freezing? That would approximate canned pumpkin pretty closely, after a second straining.

      I estimated that while my pumpkin yielded 5 2-cup portions of puree, with a quick straining, that to approximate something like canned pumpkin, the yield would drop to probably 4 2-portions. I think that's pretty close to what you experience in a second straining. But, as it is, my family prefers a slightly less strong pumpkin flavor, so I just go with the quick straining/pouring off, both just after cooking and just before baking.

      For my family's tastes, a better pie is made not according to the pumpkin/squash, but the richness of the milk/cream. This last pie was quite good. It was very creamy, likely because I used part heavy whipping cream in the cream/milk portion of the recipe.

      I hope your friends gift you with many pumpkins this year!!

  4. All I can say (since I have never made pumpkin anything myself, even from cans of pumpkin) is ...I never would have guessed you made the pumpkin pie, let alone from fresh pumpkins. That is the best looking pumpkin pie I have ever seen. So full and plump, and the crust looks just perfect. Must have tasted so good too!!


    1. Correction...I guess I have cooked with pumpkins, a Japanese pumpkin called Kabocha, but I have never made a pumpkin dessert.


    2. Kabocha my favourite. I did not know it was a Japanese pumpkin!
      Was at the farmer's market on the weekend. One of the market gardeners had 3 nice sized ones for sale. My friend said she had never tried them. True sign of friends, I gave her one :)

    3. Thank you, YHF!
      You do something enough times and you eventually get better at it.

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what is called Blue Kuri, is a type of Kabocha squash. It's a firmer squash than something like buttercup, and good for cubing and stir frying/sauteeing, as it holds it's shape, somewhat. I buy one or two Blue Kuri each fall, mostly as I love it's color!

    4. TG (Theresa) and Lili, I wonder how do you cook your kabocha? We pretty much cook it sugar/soy sauce like this recipe (often adding portuguese sausage for extra spices):

      I didn't know Kabocha squash had another name!! Husband's going to love this, next time we're at the market I'll ask him if we should buy Blue Kuri lol You're right Lili, the best thing about cooking with this squash is we don't have to peel and discard the skins, in fact that is the tastiest part, plus the seeds are nicely in the pit, whereas some other squashes like the long (green) squash, the seeds are embeded in the flesh. So annoying to throw away more than half the weight of the squash in skins and innards.


    5. YHF, I think Blue Kuri is a variety of Japanese Kabocha squash, not all Kabocha. I've also seen the greener looking kabocha, which are often confused with buttercup squash. My favorite way to prepare Blue Kuri is peeled, cubed, tossed with oil and salt and oven-roasted. I didn't know you could eat the skins, though I've seen that with Delicata. I'll have to try leaving the skin on with my next one.

    6. YHF, Yum I never knew such a recipe existed. Thank-you.
      I roast with olive oil the way Lili does. Oh my what a tasty squash/pumpkin:) I also did not know you could eat the skins. Always found they never cooked dry but were always moist.

    7. I'm curious how kabocha would taste roasted with olive oil and salt. Never tried it other than simmered in dashi (which is a soup stock, usually a seaweed/fish broth, sometimes we use a ramen soup base when we have nothing else). I don't know if the skins would be as edible if they were roasted, might be not as soft and flavorful cooked in dry heat.


  5. I haven't cooked a pumpkin in a long time. I got out of the habit when we lived in a warmer climate. The pumpkin would "melt" on the steps in just a couple of days from the heat and humidity. I never seemed to have one last long enough to roast. After that, most years we would use a jack-o-lantern that we got on clearance. And most of the time, pumpkin has been cheap enough, that I didn't want to mess with the slimy seeds. I think after I showed my kids how to do it, I haven't done it again.

    BTW, one of the things I liked about your analysis of cost is that you included the cost of the electricity for cooking the pumpkin. So many times people forget about things like that in their cost comparison and it drives me crazy.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Thank you. If I only had responsibility for the grocery spending, then I may not think about other, related expenses, like driving extra distance to get the great deal, or in this case, using my oven to make a product similar to something ready-made. My MIL taught me this very early in my marriage, when we were talking about the cost of baking bread. If I'm going to make comparisons, then I need to be accurate with my accounting.

      Now, if only I cooked in a wood-fired oven, with wood from my lot, that I chopped up myself, by the light of a candle, that I made from tallow myself, from the cattle that I raised . . .

  6. I have several free pumpkins from a friend's garden that will soon be getting the same treatment. In addition to soup, muffins, pie, Kombucha (yes, I'm going to try favoring it with pumpkin -- I mean why not??? ;-) ), cake and whatever else I can think of, I'm looking forward to trying this recipe (along with apple culls I got half price from a local orchard) :

    1. Hi Patience,
      Oh, wonderful! That quesadilla looks delicious! Let us know how you like it. I could see this, with a bit of leftover turkey added, on the days following Thanksgiving.


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