How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Pie - from a Real Pumpkin, Not a Can!
You probably take pumpkin pie from canned pumpkin for granted. You're there, the can is there, there's a pumpkin on the label... open it and mix it up with spices to make a pie, right? Ah, but a pumpkin pie made from a fresh pumpkin tastes so much better than the glop that was processed last year! Here's how to do it, complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. And it is much easier than you think, using my "patented" tips and tricks! This makes a light, fluffy pumpkin pie with a fresh, traditional pumpkin pie taste. I can assure you that this will be the best pumpkin pie you've ever made!
Directions for Making Fresh Pumpkin Pie from Scratch (in 3 steps)
Step 1 - Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree
Step 2 - Make Pastry
Step 3 - Assemble and cook Pie
Yield: It really depends on the size of the pumpkin and the size of your pie plate. If you use a 6" to 8" pie pumpkin and a full deep dish 9" pie plate, then it should fill that pie to the brim and maybe have enough extra for either a small (4 inch) shallow pie (or a crust less pie - see step 11).
Ingredients and Equipment
A sharp, large serrated knife
an ice cream scoop
a large microwaveable bowl or large pot
1 large deep-dish pie plate and pie crust (Click here for illustrated pie crust instructions! they will open in a new window) - or two small pie plates and crusts
a pie pumpkin (see step 1)
1 cup sugar
1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
one half teaspoon ground ginger
one half teaspoon salt (optional, I don't use any)
4 large eggs
3 cups pumpkin glop (ok... "sieved, cooked pumpkin")
1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk (I use the nonfat version)
Recipe and Directions
Yield: One 9-inch deep dish pie or two 8-inch shallow pies
Step 1 - Get your pie pumpkin
"Pie pumpkins" are smaller, sweeter, less grainy textured pumpkins than the usual jack-o-lantern types. Grocery stores usually carry them in late September through December in the U.S. Note: the Libby's can of cooked pumpkin is just there for reference - it is the small can, so that gives you an idea of the size of a typical pie pumpkin. They're only about 6 to 8 inches in diameter (about 20 to 24 inches in circumference). If you're in a pinch and can't find a pie pumpkin, here's a tip: butternut squash taste almost the same! Commercial canned pumpkin is from a variety of butternut, not true pumpkins! If you DO use a regular Jack O' Lantern type pumpkin, you may need to add about 25% more sugar and run the cooked pumpkin through a blender or food processor to help smooth it out.
Just like selecting any squash, look for one that is firm, no bruises or soft spots, and a good orange color. One 8" pie pumpkin usually makes one 9 inch pie!
Step 2 - Prepare the pumpkin for cooking
Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in cool or warm water, no soap.
Cut the pumpkin in half. A serrated knife and a sawing motion works best - a smooth knife is more likely to slip and hurt you! A visitor suggests using a hand saw.
Step 3 - Scoop out the seeds...
And scrape the insides. You want to get out that stringy, dangly stuff that coats the inside surface. I find a heavy ice cream scoop works great for this.
Note: SAVE THE SEEDS:
The seeds can be used either to plant pumpkins next year, or roasted to eat this year! Place them in a bowl of water and rub them between your hands. then pick out the orange buts (throw that away) and drain off the water. Spread them out on a clean towel or paper towel to dry and they're ready to save for next year's planting or roast. Click here for roasting instructions! (opens in a new window)
Step 4 - Cooking the pumpkin
There are several ways to cook the pumpkin; just choose use your preferred method. Most people have microwaves and a stove, so I'll describe both of those methods here. But others make good arguments in favor of using a pressure cooker or baking in the oven. At the end of this document, I’ve included alternative instructions to replace step 4, if you’d rather use a different method.
Put it in a microwaveable bowl
Remove the stem, and put the pumpkin into a microwaveable. You may need to cut the pumpkin further to make it fit. The fewer the number of pieces, the easier it will to scoop out the cooked pumpkin afterwards.
Put a couple of inches of water in the bowl, cover it, and put in the microwave.
Note: You can also cook it on the stovetop; it takes about the same length of time in a steamer (20 to 30 minutes). I use a double pot steamer, but you could use an ordinary large pot with a steamer basket inside it!:
Or steam on the stovetop
Step 5 - Cook the pumpkin until soft
Either way, cook for 15 minutes on high, check to see if it is soft, then repeat in smaller increments of time until it is soft enough to scoop the innards out. Normally it takes 20 or 30 minutes in total.
Step 6 - Scoop out the cooked pumpkin
Whether you cook the pumpkin on the stove, microwave, or even the oven, once it is cooked until it is soft, it is easy to scoop out the guts with a broad, smooth spoon, (such as a tablespoon). Use the spoon to gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin. It should separate easily an in fairly large chucks, if the pumpkin is cooked enough.
Many times the skin or rind will simply lift off with your fingers (see the photo at left) . I'll bet you didn't realize making your own pumpkin glop... err, "puree" was this easy!
Note: there are many varieties of pumpkin and some make better pies that other (due to sugar content, flavor, texture and water content. Drier, sweeter, fine-grained pies; the small (8" across) ones called "pie pumpkins" are best. If your pumpkin is much more watery than the puree in the photo at right (there should not be any free water), you may want to let it sit for 30 minutes and then pour off any free water. That will help prevent you pie from being too watery! Beyond, that, I have not found that the water makes a difference - I wouldn't be TOO concerned about it!
Tip from a visitor: "I make my own pumpkin pies from scratch all the time. To eliminate watery pumpkin I strain my pureed pumpkin through a cloth overnight. If I use frozen pumpkin I do the same again as it thaws out. It works great and my pies cook beautifully."
Step 7 - Puree the pumpkin
To get a nice, smooth consistency, I use a Pillsbury hand blender. By blending it, you give the pie a smooth, satiny texture; rather than the rough graininess that is typical of cooked squashes.
A regular blender works, too (unless you made a few frozen daiquiris and drank them first..). Or a food processor or even just a hand mixer with time and patience.
With the hand blender, it just takes 2 or 3 minutes!
Another visitor says using a food mill, like a Foley Food Mill, with a fine screen, accomplishes the blending/pureeing very well, too!
If not making pie today - Freeze in 1 or 2 cup portions in a ziplock bag. Making the puree ahead will save you a lot of time on Thanksgiving Day! When ready to make the pie, take out frozen pumpkin puree and allow to thaw at room temperature.
Step 8 - Done with the pumpkin!
The pumpkin is now cooked and ready for the pie recipe. Get the frozen daiquiris out from step 7 and take a break! :) You may freeze the pie filling (not NOT can it: See this page for the safety reasons why.)
Step 9 - Make the pie crust
Yes, I know there are ready-made pie crusts in the frozen section at the store, but they really are bland and doughy. A flaky crust is easy to make! Again, note that unless you use large, deep dish pie plates, you may have enough for 2 pies.
It is also time to start preheating the oven. Turn it on and set it to 425 F (210 C, for those in Europe)
Directions for Making a Flakey Pie Crust - Easily!
Ingredients and Equipment
1.5 cups flour - plain flour, not self-rising. I use whole wheat flour, fresh ground at the store while I wait.
1/3 cup cold water - cold is the key!
3/4 to 1 cup CHILLED vegetable shortening - I use the trans-fat free version of Crisco, you may prefer butter
Note that until recently, Crisco shortening contained a lot of trans fats. They now have a new version, in a green can, that has 0 grams of trans fats. If you are the UK, there is something called Trex vegetable fat in the refrigerated section of the supermarket near the butter. I'm told it a good substitute for Crisco.
Recipe and Directions
Step 1 - Mix the ingredients
Mix the flour and shortening first.
Step 2 - Mix and add water as needed
then sprinkle in the water, just enough to make a good dough consistency. Note that flour varies considerably in moisture content, so add the water slowly, mixing, and only add just enough to make a dough that will hold together and make pea sized granules.
Step 3 - Roll out the dough
I use a pie crust bag (a circular plastic bag that zips up around the edge, but two pieces of waxed paper will work)
Roll it out to an even thickness, and just an inch or two wider than your pie pan. My crusts are about 1/8 inch thick. If the dough has warmed up to room temperature, pop it in the fridge for half an hour - the cold helps with making it flakey!