Pumpkins are an iconic fall staple, and starting in October they will start flooding your grocery stores and farmers’ markets. They come in so many beautiful colors and shapes, and make for great tablescapes and holiday decorations. But pumpkins aren’t just for carving or decorations. They are also delicious and their resume is way more versatile than just being used for your holiday pumpkin pies! Aside from using them in cakes, cookies, and bars, try them in salads, soups and loads more savory dishes. They are delicious roasted, stir-fried, grilled, baked, or steamed and add great nutrition to any diet. So this fall season try picking up a few pumpkins for fun and festive decorations as well as a few for eating.
Pumpkins are typically round and orange. They have a mild flavor and their seeds are edible. They come in colors ranging from white to blue but most common varieties are orange. They can vary in size from less than a pound to over 1,000 pounds. Pumpkins that are carved during Halloween are different from the variety that you cook with and are called jack-o lantern pumpkins. Cooking pumpkins have a denser flesh, higher sugar content and usually weigh between 4-9 pounds. All pumpkins contain a pulpy inside with small teardrop seeds.
Pumpkins are in season from September through March.
What to Look For
When selecting a pumpkin for cooking be sure to buy a “pie pumpkin” or a “sweet pumpkin” and not a “jack-o-lantern” pumpkin. Pie and sweet pumpkins are sweeter, smaller, more tender and contain less water. You want to select a pumpkin that still has about 1-2 inches of stem attached. A stem that has been cut too low will cause the pumpkin to decay more quickly. Avoid any pumpkins that have soft spots or large blemishes. Your pumpkin doesn’t necessarily need to be perfectly round but it should feel heavy for its size.
How to Store
It’s ok to store your purchased cooking pumpkins at room temperature in a cool, dry place for about 1 month, but be sure you don’t place them on a wood or carpeted surface as they can start to weep and can create moisture in the shell that can damage the surface that they’re resting on. Instead, place a piece of cardboard or a cloth between the pumpkin and the surface it is on. Place any cut pieces of pumpkin in an air safe container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
If you are planning on puréeing your pumpkin, you will need to cut the pumpkin into large chunks being sure to remove the stem, seeds and pulp. Place your pumpkin pieces in a large pot with about 1 cup of water and cover. Boil for 20-30 minutes or until the pumpkin pieces are tender. Once the pumpkin pieces are cooled, remove the outer skin and place the pieces into a food processor and puree. At this point you can use it in any recipe or if you want to freeze the puree you can place it into freezer safe containers in 1 cup increments and freeze for up to 1 year.
Pumpkins are a good source of Vitamin A, C and potassium, aiding in the reduction of certain types of cancer and heart disease. They are low in fat and contain about 60 calories per 1 cup of cooked pumpkin.
Pumpkin seeds can be roasted in the oven and eaten as a delicious snack.
Pumpkin flowers are edible and can be stuffed and cooked.
You can use fresh made pumpkin puree to replace canned pumpkin.
Pumpkins are known to help with morning sickness.
Looking for pumpkin recipes? Give these a try:
Brown Butter Pumpkin Waffles from Two Peas and Their Pod
Autumn Cobb Salad with Smoky Pumpkin Dressing from Heather Christo
Fresh Pumpkin Pasta from Minimalist Baker
Pumpkin Pizza with Crispy Sage from Two Peas and Their Pod
Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie from Simply Recipes
Roasted Pumpkin Sage Soup from Skinnytaste
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from Brown Eyed Baker
Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Pumpkin Hummus from Pinch of Yum
Pumpkin Cinnamon Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod
Roasted Pumpkin from Steamy Kitchen
Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting from Two Peas and Their Pod
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*