Pumpkin pie is hands-down my favorite way to eat pumpkin. I’ve already baked two pumpkin pies this year and eaten a third (not by myself, of course!). The first two pies were part of an experiment: I made the first pie with homemade pumpkin puree and the second pie with canned pumpkin. The crusts and other filling ingredients were identical for both pies, but it was remarkable how the type of pumpkin affected the filling. While both pies were very good, we thought the pie made with fresh pumpkin had a gentler, more delicate flavor than the pie made with canned pumpkin. The fresh pumpkin pie also had a lighter, more custard-like texture. If you’re looking for the intense pumpkin flavor found in a pumpkin spice latte, you probably won’t find it with fresh pumpkin. What you will find is a subtle pumpkin flavor characteristic of homemade treats.
Preparing your own pumpkin puree will take about 2 hours, not including the time required to drain the puree overnight. Of that time, only about 30 minutes requires active work, so making pumpkin puree is a doable weeknight evening project. If you cook two or three pumpkins at once, you can freeze the puree you don’t need immediately and use it throughout your autumn baking projects. Lastly, I recommend using Sugar Pie pumpkins, which cost about $2 apiece. While all pumpkins are edible, Sugar Pie pumpkins are good for baking because of their sweet flavor and even textured flesh.