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How do I make an extract to get the flavor of a pumpkin? Should I use pumpkin seeds or fresh pumpkin or maybe even the pumpkin skin? If I use pumpkin, should I dry it out or dehydrate it?

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I don't think this is practical at home, in terms of making a "pumpkin extract". What are you actually trying to achieve? – SAJ14SAJ Jun 27 '13 at 18:11
I am trying to achieve an alcohol based extract that will have the pumpkin flavor essence. I would like to use it in baking and in making cocktails. – anton2g Jun 27 '13 at 18:21

2 Answers 2

This is speculation, since I have never done it, and I don't think it is practical or more effective than just cooking with pumpkin puree for these applications.

If I were to try this, I would:

  1. Roast pumpkin (just the flesh, not the seeds or peel) to develop the roasty flavors. You would roast it dryer than you would for pureeing, maybe to a leathery texture, but not completely dry.
  2. Infuse a very strong vodka or grain alcohol with the pureed roasted pumpkin for a week or six.
  3. Filter the the liquid off with a coffee filter.
  4. Optionally, reduce the the liquid extremely carefully (probably outside for safety reasons) until it becomes reasonably concentrated.

I suspect the results of this would be underwhelming. You will note that this is essentially how fruit liquors are made at home, except for step 1 (unique to pumpkin) and step 4.

For curiosity, see also this recipe for a pumpkin liqueur, although it also has many additional pumpkin flavors. The key difference is you won't use extra flavors, and you will use a much higher pumpkin to solvent ratio.

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Instead of trying to do a reduction by heat, a better method in this case may be to do a freeze distillation ( I know this method is used often when making other fruit brandies, such as Applejack. – WLPhoenix Jan 28 '14 at 0:35

The pumpkin flavor you're likely looking for is nothing more than the spices that are added to pumpkin "stuff": cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc. If you attempt to do an extract to achieve "pumpkin essence", you will not be happy with the results.

I have been a home brewer (beer, wine, mead, etc.) for 20+ years and have seen many attempts from various brewers to make a "pumpkin beer". Long story short (and you can do a search and verify what I'm saying on any beer brewing forum's out there), it's the spices that make the flavor, not the pumpkin squash fruit.

Bottom line is there is no "typical anticipated pumpkin flavor" imparted by just pumpkin. To make a great pumpkin beer, the guys who have made multiple batches of pumpkin beer using varied recipes (using chunked up pumpkin, cooked pumpkin, roasted pumpkin, etc.), all ended up finding the perfect pumpkin beer was made using only the spices and not even using any pumpkin at all.

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There's a vast difference between pumpkin flavor and pumpkin spice. I believe the question is asking about the former, not the latter. Squash certainly does have a flavor of its own, and since the question is silent on the planned use of this flavoring, we should take it at face value that they do, in fact, want something to taste like pumpkin, not pumpkin spice. – Catija Nov 16 at 23:24
I think Catija is right about what the OP probably meant, but this is also a somewhat valuable answer in case somebody else comes along searching for how to get "pumpkin flavor" and does want the spice-based taste rather than the squash. – Erica Nov 16 at 23:42

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