For most people, pumpkins, a member of the gourd family, are an autumnal icon and are primarily purchased for carving and decorating. But certain varieties (the most common being sugar or “pie” pumpkin) are also used in cooking. In fact, don’t cook the jack-o’-lantern types of pumpkins– they’re too stringy and bland tasting for recipes.
Pie pumpkins are generally smaller than carving varieties, with thinner skin and sweeter, finer grained flesh than their larger carving cousins. If you’d like to make a holiday pie using sugar pumpkin, simply cut a sugar pumpkin into large chunks (don’t bother peeling it yet) and scrape out the seeds and stringy center. Place the chunks on a baking sheet and roast at 400°F. until tender, then let cool slightly before scraping the softened flesh away from the skin. Purée the flesh in a food processor until smooth and use in your favorite pie or soup recipes, anywhere it calls for canned pumpkin purée.