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Seasonal Produce: Pumpkins

If you're a pumpkin lover, you know that finding just the right gourd in the patch is only the beginning of the fun. Next up: how to use fresh or canned pumpkin to its most delicious extent. We have all the Halloween recipes and Thanksgiving menu ideas you might expect, from soups and raviolis to pumpkin desserts like pumpkin pies and pumpkin cheesecakes. Cake fans, be sure to check out this Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake how-to video—it's one of our highest-rated! Also find out how to (and why you should!) roast pumpkin seeds. And, of course, for newbies and old hands looking to brush up on technique, there's our can't-miss illustrated guide to carving a jack-o'-lantern!
 

Purchasing Pumpkins

  • Select firm pumpkins that feel heavy for their size. The rind should be free of blemishes and soft spots.
  • Store fresh pumpkins in a cool, dry dark place for 1 to 2 months. Do not refrigerate or cover with plastic wrap.
  • Wrap cut pieces tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze cooked pumpkin in sealable freezer-weight plastic bags or in tightly sealed plastic containers for up to 6 months.

Preparing Pumpkins

  • Just before using, rinse under cold water. Cut into halves or quarters with a large knife. Scoop out seeds and stringy fibers. Discard fibers and save seeds for toasting, if desired
  • Remove rind and cut into cubes or slices for boiling, baking, microwaving or steaming. Or, leave rind and halves intact, bake or microwave and then remove rind after cooking.
  • Purée cooked pumpkin in batches in a food processor or mash by hand. Three pounds fresh pumpkin yields about 3 cups mashed cooked pumpkin. (Note: Homemade pumpkin purée may have a higher moisture content than canned pumpkin. For best results, do not substitute homemade purée in recipes calling for canned pumpkin purée.)
  • Never cook or eat a carved Halloween pumpkin as the cut surfaces breed bacteria

Pumpkin Nutrition

  • A fresh pumpkin cooked without salt is an excellent source of vitamin A and is low in sodium and fat free.

Serving Pumpkins

  • Serve mashed or cubed cooked pumpkin as a side dish seasoned with ground cinnamon, butter and brown sugar.
  • Add fresh pumpkin chunks to your favorite vegetable or beef stew.
  • Perk up ordinary mashed potatoes by mashing in some cooked pumpkin and BREAKSTONE’S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream.
  • Turn puréed pumpkin into a savory soup by thinning it with chicken broth and seasoning with sage, curry powder or ground cinnamon.
  • Get creative with toasted pumpkin seeds. Season them with cinnamon-sugar for a sweet touch or use your favorite herb blend for savory seeds.
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