While all canned pumpkin is not alike, all canned pumpkin is pureed. For pies, breads and other pumpkin-based goodies, canned pumpkin may be preferable to pureeing your own grinning gourd since the big, orange jack-o-lantern-style orbs found at your local supermarket in October are not ideal for baking, especially if they've been sitting on the porch for a month and contain remnants of candle wax.
Do the Can Can
Canned pumpkin comes in two varieties: "100% pure" and pumpkin pie mix. The 100 percent pure canned pumpkin contains pureed pumpkin and nothing else. The pie mix contains additional spices and sugar. Canned pumpkin producers use the sweeter, finer meat from Dickinson and Large Cheese varieties of pumpkins, while the big orange jack-o-lanterns sold near Halloween are usually larger, ribbed versions such as Wyatt's Wonder or Spookie.
Carving Out a Niche
To cook and puree your own pumpkin, cut the gourd in half and remove the seeds. Place the halves in a pot of water and boil until soft, about 20 to 30 minutes. Scoop soft flesh out of the skin and puree in a food processor or blender.