The Great Pumpkin

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

It’s the Great Pumpkin! When fall finally hits, you can find an assortment of savory and sweet dishes full of seasonal spices and fresh pumpkin. If you’ve never used fresh pumpkin before, you might be a little confused about where to start. You shouldn’t use the same kind of pumpkins for pie that you use for carving a jack-o-lantern. If you’ve ever bought the much smaller pie pumpkins thinking they’d make cute little decorations, you’ve probably realized they’re hard as a rock and not ideal for carving.

The good thing is you don’t have wait all night in the sincerest pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to show up! 😉 Here are 5 easy steps to follow for picking out the best pumpkins for cooking and keeping them fresh during storage.

Choose the Right Kind -- For cooking, you'll want to use pie pumpkins (also called sugar or sweet pumpkins) which are small and round. Field types are larger, have watery, stringy flesh, and are best used for decorating.

Search for a Healthy Stem -- Find a pumpkin with a well-attached, brown, dry stem (a sign it's mature enough to be harvested), but don't use it as a carrying handle. The stem can break off, tearing the shell and leaving it susceptible to rot.

Examine Thoroughly -- Look for deep nicks, bruises, and soft spots—all signs that rot has set in. Don't overlook the bottom of the pumpkin, which can sit for long periods of time in wet soil.

Don't Judge the Gourd by Its Color -- A pumpkin's hue will dull as it ages, but as long as the skin is unblemished and free of bruises, the flesh inside will still be sweet and edible.

Store It Properly -- Whole pumpkins should be kept in a cool, dry place. Once cut, they should be wrapped tightly, refrigerated, and used within five days. Puree or cube any that's left over and freeze it for later use.

Once you’ve chosen your pumpkin, the possibilities are endless. You can use the pureed pumpkin you make with fresh pumpkins just as you would use the canned varieties we find at the supermarket. Visit for both sweet and savory pumpkin recipes.

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