When I was younger and lived near a number of natural and whole food markets I took for granted how easy it was for me to find unusual or seasonal ingredients year round. Now that I live in a region that is limited in availability for many ingredients, I have learned to make many items from scratch and freeze for later use. Canned pumpkin is one ingredient that is nearly impossible to find in my area unless it's around Thanksgiving. I'm not talking about the pre-seasoned pie filling, but rather plain pureed pumpkin to use in pancakes, muffins and other baked goods (and yummy pumpkin soup). In order to enjoy pumpkin year round I have taken to cooking, pureeing and freezing pumpkin when it's in season. Here is the quick (and inexpensive) way that I make Homemade Pumpkin Puree.
The first step is to buy a quality pie pumpkin. I purchased my pumpkins this year at the farmer's market in Charleston (WV) which had a great selection of pie pumpkins at a much cheaper price then the grocery store. Next cut the pumpkin in half. I use a serrated knife, an non-serrated blade has a much greater chance of slipping and leading to kitchen accidents. Now the fun part, scrape out all the seeds and orange pulp. I use just a regular large kitchen spoon and it works fine. Save the seeds to make roasted pumpkins seeds later (recipe to follow later in the week). I cook my pumpkin in the microwave, it's easy and doesn't create a lot of dishes or mess.
So the next step, cut up the pumpkin into chunks that are small enough to fit into a microwave dish with a lid.
Next step is to remove the pumpkin from the skin. Most of the time the skin will fall right off, and you will end up with cooked pumpkin that looks like the picture below.