How to Soften Up Pumpkins

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Smaller pumpkins are much easer to soften for baking.
Smaller pumpkins are much easer to soften for baking. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

While you can get pumpkin puree to make pumpkin desserts from a can, fresh pumpkin puree from a whole pumpkin will taste fresher and have more flavor. Pumpkins, with their hard orange skins may seem like they would be tough to soften for puree. However, pumpkins simply need to be placed in the oven to bake and soften. You don't want to use the giant pumpkins that you would use to make a jack-o-lantern because those tend to be stringy and much harder to bake. Use smaller, medium and small sized pumpkins instead.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin (4 lbs. or less)
  • Sharp knife
  • Baking dish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice the stem off of the pumpkins with a sharp knife.

Slice the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp in the middle with a spoon.

Slice each pumpkin half in half again to make quarters.

Place the pumpkins in a shallow baking dish and place in the oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until tender.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow the pumpkins to cool.

Scoop out the flesh from the skin and mash or puree as needed for whatever recipe you are using.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also place the quartered pumpkins in a steamer pot to steam until tender instead of baking.

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