We have harvested just about everything from our garden — including the pumpkins — and now it’s time to start cooking!
Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothies… pumpkin everything! But first: how to cook fresh pumpkin?
There are many varieties of pumpkin but the main difference is pie vs. carving.
Pie pumpkins (also called sugar pumpkins) are smaller and their flesh is smooth and sweet.
Carving pumpkins have less flesh (for easier carving) and the flesh is grainier and stringier. If you are hoping to eat your pumpkin, choose a pie pumpkin!
Some pumpkin enthusiasts choose to steam their pumpkin for pureeing. I, on the other hand, prefer to roast it.
Here’s why: Roasting pumpkin intensifies the flavor and allows more of the moisture to escape so that you don’t end up with a wet gloopy mess.
What’s So Great About Pumpkin Anyway?
Lots of things! Pumpkin is delicious of course, but it’s also incredibly nutritious. Pumpkin is a very good source of:
- dietary fiber
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
Pumpkin is also a good source of vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, thiamin, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Pumpkin is considered a starchy vegetable so it may not be the best choice for those suffering from blood sugar issues. However, eating starchy vegetables (like pumpkin) with healthy protein and fat reduces the impact it has on blood sugar. Because it’s so healthy otherwise, I think it’s worthwhile to figure out if you can handle small amounts of pumpkin and other starchy vegetables.
Additionally, pumpkin is very versatile and can be used in many dishes from pumpkin bread and muffins to stewed pumpkin and savory pumpkin soup.
Is Pumpkin a Fruit?
The short answer is: Yes and no (sorry!). Botanically, a pumpkin is a fruit since the pumpkin is the “fruit” of the pumpkin plant the grows from the flower (think apples, tomatoes, melon, etc). Typically, vegetables are the other edible parts of a plant such as leaves and roots (think lettuce, spinach, potatoes, carrots, etc.)
However, culinarily, pumpkin is thought of as a vegetable (a starchy one!) since it is not naturally very sweet like apples, berries, melons, and other culinary fruits and wouldn’t be a great addition to a fruit salad.
How to Cook Fresh Pumpkin
This roasting method is the easiest way to cook pumpkin for pureeing and it keeps the flavor and nutrition better than steaming.
I love making homemade pumpkin puree because it’s incredibly easy and also great for freezing.
- 1 large or 2 small pie pumpkins
Wash the outside of your pumpkin and dry with a clean towel.
Cut the stem off and then cut the fruit in half.
Scoop out the seeds and “goop” and save or toss (we roasted the seeds for ourselves and gave the stringy goop to the chickens).
Oil the cut side of the pumpkin and place face down on a parchment papered baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes for small fruits and 50-60 minutes for a large fruit. You can tell it’s done when you can easily pierce the skin (and fruit) with a fork.
Allow to sit until cool enough to handle.
Peel the skin off. I used a paring knife to peel the skin. If the pumpkin is cooked well you may not need anything but your fingers.
Cut into chunks and puree in the food processor until smooth. Yields 6-8 cups of puree.
Use however you use canned pumpkin. Leftovers can be frozen.
- 1 large or 2 small pie pumpkins
- Wash the outside of your pumpkin and dry with a clean towel.
- Cut the stem off and then cut the pumpkin in half.
- Scoop out the seeds and pumpkin "goop" and save or toss.
- Oil the cut side of the pumpkin and place face down on a parchment papered baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes for small pumpkins and 50-60 minutes for a large pumpkin. You can tell it's done when you can easily pierce the skin with a fork.
- Allow to sit until cool enough to handle.
- Peel the skin off. I used a paring knife to peel the skin. If the pumpkin is cooked well you may not need anything but your fingers.
- Cut into chunks and puree in the food processor until smooth. Yields 6-8 cups of puree.
- Use however you use canned pumpkin. Stay tuned for next weeks post for a pumpkin truffle recipe using fresh pumpkin puree!
How to Use Pumpkin Puree in Recipes
You can use fresh pumpkin puree any way you use canned. I like to use it in:
- pumpkin butter
- pumpkin truffle recipe
- pumpkin soup
- flourless pumpkin bars
- pumpkin pie pudding
- pumpkin custard
- pumpkin bread
- pumpkin muffins
- pumpkin apple breakfast bake
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