Cooks can prepare raw pumpkin for use by boiling, steaming or baking. After cooking, the next step is pureeing or mashing the pumpkin for use in pies, breads, cookies, soups or custards.
The best pumpkins for cooking are sugar pie pumpkins or other small, flavorful varieties weighing 4 to 5 pounds. Field pumpkins are edible but are usually too stringy and large for easy cooking. A 4-pound pumpkin yields about 1 1/2 cups of mashed or pureed pumpkin, while a 5-pound pumpkin yields about 4 1/2 pounds. Mashed or pureed pumpkin lasts for up to three days in the refrigerator or six months in the freezer.
To cook a pumpkin, cut it in half, and remove the seeds, pulp and stringy fibers. To bake the pumpkin, preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the pumpkin halves face down in a shallow baking dish, and bake them for about 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Scoop out the flesh from the rind and mash it, or use a food processor or blender to puree it.
To steam or boil the pumpkin, cut the cleaned halves into small pieces and peel them. To steam them, place them in a steamer over boiling water, cover, and cook for about 50 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. To boil the pieces instead, put them in a pot, cover them with lightly salted water and boil for about 25 minutes or until tender. After cooking, mash or puree the pumpkin.