Here’s the scoop on cooking and baking with pumpkin

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pie pumpkins in crate

Sure, you can buy canned pure pumpkin, but why not change up your fall cooking and baking schedule by making your own puree right from the pumpkin?

Pumpkins are chock full of beta-carotene, which is indicated by the fruit’s color. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A and is thought to protect against heart disease and cancer. Pumpkins are also a great source of Vitamin C, calcium, iron, folate and potassium.

What kind of pumpkins can you eat?

Pie and sugar pumpkins are suitable for cooking. They should be deep orange and firm, without bruises, cuts or soft spots.

pumpkin seedsIf you want to roast pumpkin seeds, you can use seeds from decorative pumpkins.

Cooking and eating pumpkin

Never eat pumpkin raw, and always remove the peel. Only wash pumpkins with cold water. Do not use soaps or household bleach. Thoroughly dry pumpkins before storing in the refrigerator so mold and bacteria do not grow.

You can bake, boil, steam, broil, pan-fry or pressure cook pumpkin. You can boil, bake, steam or microwave cut up pieces of pumpkin, then remove the skin and put the pumpkin in a blender or food processor to make a puree.

Baking

pumpkin pie and baking ingredientsTo bake whole, prick holes in the sides of the pumpkin, then place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F until the pumpkin is soft enough to cut. Once the pumpkin is removed from the oven and cool, you can cut it and remove the stringy insides and seeds.

Pumpkins can also be baked after being cut in half or in quarters. Remove seeds and stringy insides. Cut sides down, place pumpkin pieces in a baking dish. Add ¼-inch of water and bake until tender. Once the pumpkin is almost done, turn the pieces upward. Season with brown sugar, cinnamon or nutmeg and margarine. You can also stuff pumpkins with apples, cinnamon or even sausage.stuffed pumpkin

Boiling

To boil, cut up pumpkin or cook it whole in salted water. Scrape the puree out of the shell. Use the puree for pie filling, breads and casseroles. A number of ingredients can be combined with pureed pumpkin.

Sources: Ohio State University Extension, Purdue University Extension, West Virginia University Extension

Have any questions about cooking and baking with pumpkin? Ask us in the comments section!

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Katie Woods grew up in Columbiana, Ohio. Katie likes reading, writing, enjoying the outdoors and DIY projects.

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