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CHEFS In Season Featuring Pumpkins: Pumpkin Recipes, Tips, Informaion and more from CHEFS Catalog.
Featured Pumpkin Recipes
About Pumpkins
Pumpkins are a hardy squash native to North America. Evidence suggests that pumpkins originated in Mexico between 7000 and 5500 BC. Today, pumpkins grow on all continents except Antarctica.

Not all pumpkins are large, round and orange. The smallest variety weighs less than 1 pound while the largest tops 1,000 pounds. A pumpkin’s shape can be round, oblong and ovoid. And, its smooth rind comes in many colors including white, green, gray, blue and orange.

In the United States, pumpkins symbolize the official arrival of fall. Communities across the country celebrate the harvest season with pumpkin patches and pumpkin festivals. No traditional Thanksgiving dinner omits a pumpkin pie for dessert, and we’re not ready for Halloween without a carved jack-o-lantern on the porch.

When it comes to cooking, the versatile pumpkin is delicious in an array of dishes, from cheesecake and spiced lattes to baked goods, soups and side dishes. Pumpkin flesh, blossoms and seeds are all edible.

How to Select a Pumpkin

Pumpkin season begins in October and lasts through winter. You’ll find them in your market’s produce section or special displays for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

For the perfect Halloween jack-o-lantern, choose a carving pumpkin. Its thick skin and thin walls stand up to carving and outdoor display. While all pumpkins are edible, carving pumpkins, with their low sugar content and stringy flesh, are the poorer choice for eating.

For eating, choose pie pumpkins – their sweet, tender flesh is perfect for savory dishes and purees used in pies and other baked goods. Pie pumpkins have a thinner skin and are smaller than carving pumpkins, weighing in at only 4 to 10 pounds each. About one pound of raw, untrimmed pumpkin will yield one cup of cooked pumpkin puree.

When choosing pie pumpkins for cooking, look for:
  • Uniform size and color
  • Blemish-free surface – no nicks, scratches, cracks, cuts, soft spots or bruises
  • Skin that has a dull or matte finish (a shiny skin means the pumpkin was picked too early)
  • An intact stem that’s 1 to 2 inches long
  • Ones that feel heavy for their size
How to Store a Pumpkin

When stored properly, fresh pie pumpkins will last for up to one month. Store the pumpkins in a cool, dry place that has good air circulation and is away from direct sunlight. The ideal storage temperature range is 50 to 65 degrees F. Handle pumpkins carefully – any surface damage will lead to decay and a shortened shelf life.

In the refrigerator, pie pumpkins will keep for up to two months. In the freezer, cooked or pureed pumpkin will keep for up to one year.

How to Prepare Pumpkins for Cooking

Rinse the pumpkin in cool water. Wipe dry. With a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half and cut away the stem. Scoop out the seeds and set aside if you plan to roast them or save them for next year’s garden. Scrape the flesh to remove the stringy fibers and pulp. Slice or cut the pumpkin according to your recipe. Cook by steaming, roasting, boiling or baking. If you’re in a hurry, cook pumpkin in a microwave oven or pressure cooker. Remove the skin after cooking – it should easily separate from the flesh.

How to Eat Pumpkins

Pumpkin’s popularity as a cooking ingredient goes beyond the classic Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Try it in cheesecake, cookies, ice cream, pancakes, muffins, stir-fries and soups. Roast the pumpkin seeds for a healthier snack or deep fry stuffed pumpkin blossoms for a tasty appetizer.

Nutritionally, cooked pumpkin is a cholesterol-free food that’s low in calories and sodium. It’s also rich in fiber and beta-carotene, the antioxidant that converts to Vitamin A. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains about 50 calories.

Raw pumpkin seeds are a healthy source of fiber, protein, minerals, unsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids but are not low in calories. A 1-ounce serving contains about 155 calories.

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