Best tips for pumpkin puree?

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Butternut squash puree is made by cooking, mashing, and processing the squash. It can be used in various recipes and seasoned to taste. Choose a large squash, flavor options include cinnamon, honey, and ginger. Cook in the oven and mash or process. Use immediately or freeze for later.

Butternut squash puree is the result of cooking, mashing, and processing butternut squash. This often sweet and delicious puree can be added to breads, spice cakes, and sweet or savory soups. Proper cooking procedures soften the pumpkin flesh, allowing the cook to extract it from the shell and mash or process it further. Many cooks season butternut squash puree while cooking or right after processing to boost the flavor it adds to recipes. It can also make a homemade nutritious baby food.

Cooks typically should choose a large butternut squash free of bruises or squishy spots on the crust. The skin should be smooth, firm, and a relatively uniform beige in color. Slicing the squash in half vertically should reveal bright orange flesh and a bed of seeds. A large spoon or rubber spatula works well for scooping up and discarding the seeds. If a cook likes it, pumpkin seeds can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds.

The oven must be preheated to about 325°F (about 162°C) to cook the squash. While the oven is heating up, the cook can place the squash halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet or in a saucepan. Here, the cook can choose one of many flavor options. Some cooks like to leave pumpkin out of season because they want a very versatile pumpkin puree. Others choose to add a few dollops of butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and some brown sugar.

Other options for flavoring pumpkin puree include orange and lemon peels, salt and pepper, honey, ginger, chives and garlic powder. Those adding powdered herbs may want to mix them into the cooking oil first and drizzle them on the fleshy side of each squash half. Once cured, the squash should cook in the oven until the tines of a fork slide easily into the flesh. Letting the squash cool for about 20 minutes after cooking usually prevents burnt fingers.

A melon baller, large spoon, or the side of a fork usually works well for scraping the flesh out of the squash shell after cooking. The cook can transfer the softened meat to a bowl to mash or scrape it directly into a blender or food processor. Those using the mashing technique would typically break up the meat with a spoon before mashing it with a fork. An immersion blender can also easily transform pumpkin puree.

Those using a blender or food processor should pulse the machine on high until the butternut squash puree is smooth. You may need a rubber spatula to scrape the mixer off the sides of the blender or processor. Once smooth, the cook can use the pumpkin puree right away or freeze it for future use.

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