It's Pumpkin Season!

Cooking with PumpkinIt's a fruit (yes, you heard us, it's a fruit) that practically screams Halloween, fall, October and pie, but there's more you can do with a pumpkin than carve jack-o-lanterns and roast pumpkin seeds. We're sharing some of our yummiest pumpkin recipes, and yes, there's one here for pie, too!

These recipes feature canned pumpkin. You can use a cooking pumpkin, but don't use one of the enormous pumpkins sold for carving. Also, be sure not to use it after you've carved it because bacteria will grow on the cut surfaces. As with most members of the squash family, the bigger they are, the less sweet they are. Larger pumpkins may also be a bit more mealy and watery. Try a smaller size (sometimes called a sugar pumpkin) for cooking. (You can also try using other types of squash.)

If you want to try roasting a pumpkin – to make purée for one of these recipes, or another recipe – bear in mind that fresh cooked pumpkin is milder and has more moisture in it than canned pumpkin. That makes canned pumpkin best for baking recipes where a specific moisture balance is critical.

To roast a pumpkin:

    1. Carefully cut the pumpkin in half using a sharp knife and stable cutting surface.
    2. Remove the stem and scoop out the seeds.
    3. Place both halves face down in a baking dish and cover the dish with foil.
    4. Bake in a preheated 375° oven until tender (about 75-90 min.).
    5. Cool cut side down on a rack to allow excess water to drain off.
    6. Scoop flesh from the skin and purée in a food processor until smooth.
    7. If you insist on using fresh cooked pumpkin in a baking recipe (such as a pie), let the purée drain in the refrigerator several hours to overnight in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl.

Did you know?

  • Most of the pumpkins grown in the United States are grown in Illinois.
  • A warm-weather crop, pumpkins aren't typically planted in Minnesota until July.
  • The largest pumpkin on record weighed in at 1,810 pounds.
  • Pumpkin shells, seeds, leaves and flowers are all edible.
  • International Pumpkin Day is the second Saturday in October.
  • Antarctica is the only continent that doesn't grown pumpkins.
  • Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North America.
  • The largest pumpkin pie on record weighed in at 2,020 pounds.

Even though they're not well-suited for cooking, your jack-o-lantern can provide a wonderful treat. Make a delicious snack from the pumpkin seeds. Clean them well and dry them as much as possible. Toss them with 1 tbsp. of olive oil, 1 tsp. of kosher salt and 1 tsp. of garlic powder (do not use fresh garlic because it will burn). Roast these on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a preheated 375˚ oven until dark golden-brown (about 15 min.), stirring once or twice. Allow them to cool so you don't burn yourself, but also because they will get crunchier as they stand. Add more salt if desired. If you're feeling creative, you can customize your seeds by adding one or more of the following before baking: cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, fresh herbs, citrus zest or Parmesan cheese.

Featured Recipes

Spiced Maple Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing
Pumpkin Tortelloni with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Pie
Perfect Pie Crust

You can find extra recipes featuring pumpkin – including recipes for Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Soup and even more ideas for roasted pumpkin seeds – in our online recipe file.

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