If like me, you only truly believe fall has arrived when you begin to see displays of pumpkin puree and apple cider displayed front and center at the grocery store, you are well aware that we are approaching that time. While I’m never quite ready to accept the end of summer, I’m very interested in pumpkin-themed dishes, like oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, and pies galore. They’re just so cozy, and the only thing I like more than being warm is being cozy. For those who love pumpkin, but don’t necessarily want to shove a bunch of cans into their pantries, or perhaps are just looking for a kitchen project, allow me to suggest DIY pumpkin puree.

Keep in mind that this method also works for other winter squash like butternut or acorn, and even not-squash (but similarly orange) sweet potatoes as well. You could even make a puree of several orange vegetables for a richer product. Industry secret: This is actually why canned pumpkin from the store is so good. The USDA doesn’t firmly regulate what will be labeled as “pumpkin,” so the cans in your pantry are more likely a blend than pure pumpkin. As for you, I recommend pureeing whatever you think tastes good.

Find 2 small sugar pumpkins (or a comparable amount of winter squash) at the grocery store or farmers’ market and give them a good scrub with a sponge and water. Dry the pumpkins, then slice off the tops. Slice the pumpkins in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Later, you should definitely separate the seeds and roast them with olive oil and salt for a snack.

Drop the halved pumpkins onto a baking sheet and bake at 350ºF for about an hour, or until the pumpkin is super tender with poked with a fork. 

Let the cooked pumpkin cool for 10 minutes or so, then scoop the flesh from the skin with a spoon into a blender or food processor.

Puree the pumpkin until smooth, adding 2-3 tablespoons of water to the mixture if it seems very thick (this will depend on the pumpkin you selected, and may not be necessary).

Scoop the pumpkin puree into freezer-safe containers and store in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. The puree can be defrosted in the refrigerator over several hours, or in a saucepan over low heat.