Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Whipped feta with homemade pumpkin puree

Many people will tell you canned pumpkin puree is better than homemade pumpkin puree. But that is simply not true. Here's what they mean:  There isn't a noticeable difference between the two when used in baked goods. And since homemade pumpkin puree takes more effort than opening a can, why bother?

I'm here to tell you homemade pumpkin puree tastes significantly better than canned puree. I actually enjoy eating straight homemade pumpkin puree. Can you imagine doing that with the canned version? 

But I'll admit, it's true—there isn't much of a difference in baked goods. So that brings us back to the initial question: Why bother making homemade puree? Well, I think there are some instances in which it does indeed make a difference in taste, particularly in no-bake recipes, like the pumpkin whipped feta dip recipe that you'll find in this post!

What is pumpkin puree?

Pumpkin puree is the cooked and blended flesh of the squash with the seeds and skin removed. 

What type of pumpkin should I use for pumpkin puree?

Use sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins. It’s the same thing but with different names. They weigh a couple of pounds and are usually 8ish inches in diameter. DO NOT use great big jack-o-lantern pumpkins. They tend to be bitter and stringier. 

What is the difference between canned pumpkin and fresh pumpkin?

Canned pumpkin may be a combination of a few different types of pumpkins. It may even contain other types of squash. It is made by steaming the pumpkin, scraping out the flesh, and blending it.

Fresh pumpkin, on the other hand, is made from one type of pumpkin, and the flesh is roasted before it is blended. I think roasting yields the best flavor because excess water evaporates and the flesh slightly caramelizes in the oven resulting in a sweeter flavor. 

Visually, canned pumpkin is significantly darker in color than fresh pumpkin. Also, fresh pumpkin is thinner than the canned version.

Pros of using canned pumpkin

  • It is a consistent product. Every can contains the same moisture, texture and color. 
  • It’s convenient.
  • Most people say they can’t taste a difference when used in baked goods

Pros of using fresh pumpkin

  • It definitely tastes better on its own.
  • It’s cheaper.
  • You get pumpkin seeds which make a tasty snack.

When should I use fresh vs canned pumpkin?

I don’t think anyone will notice a difference in your baked goods as to whether you use fresh or canned pumpkin puree. I think it makes the most difference when using it uncooked, like in a dip. I think pumpkin puree straight from the can has a slightly metallic taste.

Homemade pumpkin puree

Yield: Makes 4 cups puree

Time: About 15 minutes prep, 60 minutes cooking


  • 1 pie pumpkin
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Wash and dry pumpkin and cut in half.
  3. Use ice cream or cookie scoop to scrape out seeds and pulp. Set aside to make roasted pumpkin seeds if desired.
  4. Brush avocado oil on flesh side of pumpkin halves.
  5. Place halves flesh side down on baking sheet. Use knife to pierce pumpkin skin several times.
  6. Place in oven for 60 minutes, flipping pumpkins to flesh side up halfway through cooking.
  7. Remove from oven and peel skin off each half.
  8. Transfer pumpkin to food process and process until smooth, scraping down bowl as necessary.
  9. Place pumpkin puree in refrigerator up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 3 months.

Whipped pumpkin feta dip

Yield: 8 servings

Time: 10 minutes


  • 10 ounces sheep’s milk feta cheese, block, drained from brine
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked


  1. Put feta in food processor and blend until smooth, scraping sides as needed.
  2. Add pumpkin puree, thyme, honey, and black pepper. Blend until smooth.
  3. Transfer dip to refrigerator and chill until ready to serve.
  4. Garnish with thyme leaves, honey, black pepper, and pumpkin seeds, if desired, and serve with toasted pita, crackers, or baguette.

Notes: Do not use feta crumbles. Manufacturers coat feta crumbles with anti-caking agents to prevent them from clumping together. That means they won't blend into a smooth dip. Also, use sheep's milk feta, which is sharper and tangier than cow's milk feta, which can be bland.


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