Great jack-o'-lanterns don't make for great eating—large pumpkins tend to be
stringy and tasteless. When cooking pumpkin, choose "sugar" or "pie"
named varieties specially grown for baking.
Best known for Halloween jack-o'-lanterns and Thanksgiving pumpkin
, these large, round members of the gourd family have mildly
sweet, orange inner flesh. Pumpkin seeds
, known as pepitas
delicately nutty when husked and roasted. Pumpkin is a good source of
vitamin A and it may be prepared in any way suitable for winter squash
Fresh pumpkins are in peak season
from September through November. Choose brightly colored pumpkins that
are free of blemishes and heavy
for their size.
When using pumpkins for cooking, look for varieties
specifically grown for eating and baking, such as Sugar Pie, Small
Sugar, Sugar Baby, Autumn Gold, Prize Winner
and Triple Treat
smaller pumpkins will be sweeter, more tender and less watery than
is also available canned in your supermarket's baking aisle.
Whole pumpkins can be stored at room temperature for one month, or refrigerated for up to three months.
To prepare pumpkin for cooking, use a sharp knife to remove the stem
and cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and strings and cook
using one of these methods:
Place pumpkin halves cut-side down on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave
on high for 15 minutes, then test to see if the flesh is fork-tender. If
not, cook in additional one- to two-minute intervals until done.
Rinse the pumpkin halves in cold water. Place cut-side down on a large
cookie sheet and bake at 350ºF for one hour until fork tender.
Cut the pumpkin halves in large chunks and rinse in cold water. Boil
with water (the water doesn't need to cover the pumpkin) in a large covered pot for 20 to 30 minutes, or until fork
After cooking, let the pumpkin sit until it's cool enough to handle.
Remove the peel with a sharp knife and purée the pumpkin pieces in a
, food mill or potato masher. This homemade puree can be
used in any recipe calling for canned pumpkin, in equal amounts.
Pumpkin and winter squash
(acorn, hubbard) can be used interchangeably in most recipes.