Photo Credit: Elliot Margoliest
Post by Contributing Writer, Nada
Tis the season for those big orange globes to find their way to neighbors’ doorsteps. They have become a symbol of autumn, of the cooling weather and the changing colors. But pumpkins are an absolute delight in our kitchens as well!
Only the knife knows what goes on in the heart of a pumpkin.
Pumpkin is a great source of Vitamin C, which helps promote healthy teeth and gums, helps your body absorb iron, and promotes healing in the body. It’s also an amazing source of Vitamin A, which helps keep your bones, skin, teeth, and muscle membranes healthy and strong.
Pumpkins do not further ripen after they’ve been picked. They will, however, rot. So it’s important that you pick one that is fully ripened and sturdy when you receive it. When selecting a pumpkin, look for one that is completely orange. Ones that are still slightly yellowish or green are not fully ripened and will not be very tasty.
A ripe pumpkin has a firm, hard shell and it doesn’t get dinged up very easily. It should sound hollow when you knock on it with your knuckles. The stem should also be firm and strong.
Photo Credit: Paul
Check for cracks and splits that could end up being a soft spot or might even have some mold growing inside. Avoid ones that are soft and brown, as they are too ripe to be much good to you.
Once you have it home, you’re set! Pumpkins don’t require much more than a cool, dry area, between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. If the stem is attached and you’ve picked one at the right age, they will actually keep several months unprocessed before you have to toss them. If you do chose to make a decoration out of it, however, you will have to prepare the meat of the pumpkin for cooking.
Photo Credit: Jenn and Jon
“Gut” your pumpkin by scooping out all the stringy bits, seeds, and pulp, until you just have the hard outer shell. Once that is complete, cut your pumpkin up onto manageable pieces. Peel with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, so that you remove the tough skin and only keep the edible flesh.
You can then either bake, steam or boil it, and then mash it manually or by using a blender or food processor. The water used to cook it can be used for soups or broths. Freeze it in appropriate portions that you will use.
You can also save the pumpkin seeds and make a delicious Savory Pumpkin Seed Snack out of them!
All that lovely pumpkin puree can be used to make some of the most delicious desserts — your traditional pumpkin pies, pumpkin loaves, pumpkin tarts… But it can also be used as a main dish, too! How about pumpkin soup? Pumpkin curry? Or even pumpkin gnocchi!
My personal favorite is good ol’ fashioned pumpkin muffins. Simple, spicy and delicious, they are a great breakfast on chilly autumn mornings before you head out to rake up the leaves. It’s also a great way to sneak some extra veggies into your family’s diet! Here’s a great recipe:
Photo Credit: Christi Johnstone
1 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Butter
2 Eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Raisins or other dried fruit
1 cup cooked, pureed Pumpkin
Cream together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and mix. Blend together the dry ingredients. Stir in raisins or fruit and the pumpkin.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Looking for a more decadent version? Try our Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins!
Nada is a first-time mom to a delightful little girl and the wife to a wise and wonderful man. With a background in fitness and nutrition, she enjoys healthy cooking, green cleaning and especially writing, and has acquired a vast knowledge of interesting little facts… about everything! She aspires to be a Godly woman that her daughter is proud to call “Mom” and through her blog, miniMOMist, she discusses how attachment parenting, minimalism, simplicity and frugal living help in her everyday mission.