Nothing spells fall like a giant orange pumpkin! When the temperatures start dropping and the leaves start changing, use this fall staple in everything from decorations to soups, from entrees to desserts.
Types | Variety | Picking | Roasting Seeds | Storing | Recipes
Which Pumpkin's Which?
Field pumpkins: Big, oval and easy to carve, theyíre perfect for classic Jack-o'-Lanterns. But when it comes to eating, pass on these ñ theyíre tough, stringy and watery.
Sugar pumpkins: Smaller and rounder with fine-grained flesh and delicate flavor, theyíre perfect for soups, stews, roasts, pies, cookies and cakes. Pick your own at a local pumpkin patch (while you're there, grab some of the best fall produce like apples, pears, plums and winter squash). And have some fun while you're there ñ some patches offer hay-rides, corn mazes and more.
Variety is the Spice
Carving: Bigger field varieties like Connecticut Field, Baby Boo (cute isn't it?), Spooktacular (even better!), Big Max, Cinderella and Atlantic Giant are your best bets Don't miss our pumpkin carving templates of fun characters, including the Doughboyô!
Cooking: Look for names like Sugar, Cheese, Pie, Baby Bear and Winter Luxury ñ all perfect for eating. They're smaller (about 2 to 5 pounds), but they can be carved, too.
Decorating/Serving: All types of pumpkins make terrific containers for soups, stews and casseroles. Just scoop out the seeds and string first.
Fun idea: The early settlers baked what's now called pumpkin pie by filling a hollowed pumpkin with milk, eggs and spices, and then resting it in coals to cook. Mmmm!
5 Tips for Picking the Perfect Pumpkin:
- Look for color and firmness. Pick pumpkins when theyíre brightly colored, firm and fully mature (they won't ripen off the vine).
- Make sure they don't have any nicks or cuts. The skin should be hard enough to resist puncture by a thumbnail.
- Handle with care. Don't pick a pumpkin up by its ìhandle.î Cut them from the vine with a sharp knife or garden shears or scissors.
- Keep it indoors. Pumpkins are still alive even after theyíre harvested. Once you have your pumpkins home, donít leave them outside, especially if itís cold or raining. If you can, store them in a well-ventilated place for a week or two. This protects them against rot so theyíll last longer.
- If one of the pumpkins youíve picked isn't perfect, there are several things you can do to salvage it:
-Instead of carving, hollow it out to make a container for fresh or dried fall flowers
-Cut it in half and use the bottom as a container for cruditÈs at an autumn party
-Just use the seeds (see instructions below) to plant your own patch for next year. And, who can resist roasted seeds for snacks?
Roast Them Up!
Pumpkin seeds are a free bonus! They're great simply salted or tossed with raisins, dried fruits and nuts for a snack. Check out one of our recipe for roasting seeds!
3 Tips for Storing Pumpkins:
- Stay out of the sun. Store fresh pumpkins away from direct sunlight.
- Keep them cool. Refrigerate perishables, prepared food,= and leftovers within 2 hours. Put leftovers in shallow Ziploc containers for quick cooling. Keep your refrigerator temperature at 40∞ F or below.
- Freeze it. If you donít plan to use the meat of the pumpkin for cooking right away, cut it into cubes and freeze it for later in a Ziploc freezer bag. To help prevent freezer burn, put your food in bag and lay it flat. Press as much air as you can out of the bag. Close the bag seal until one inch remains open. Press the remaining air out of the bag; then seal the bag completely. Keep your freezer temperature at 0∞ F.