One of the things that I love most about the different seasons is the different foods. For example, when I think of autumn, I think of foods such as apples, cranberries, gingerbread, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin.
For this article I want to provide some info about pumpkins because pumpkins are always on sale around Halloween and even better yet, they are really healthy to eat! Keep in mind that the best pumpkins for eating are not the ones that are in those huge bins and are sold to be jack-o-lanterns for Halloween because although they are large, because they are grown specifically for carving: the walls of the pumpkin are thin, and there is little flavor to them. All About Pumpkins has an extensive list of pumpkins that are good for cooking. Gardening About.com also provides excellent information about the best pumpkins for eating. In a nutshell, cooking pumpkins are much smaller and weigh 4-8 pounds, some skins are white (however, the flesh is still bright orange). All Recipes suggests Sugar Pie, Baby Bear, and Cheese pumpkins for cooking. They also provide a great video to show you how to cube cooking pumpkins.
Fresh pumpkins keep well for up to three months as long as you keep them out of direct sunlight and in a cool spot that is also protected from frost. Get two uses out of these bright orange orbs by using them as a centerpiece for your dinner table for a week or so before you cook them.
Since they are cheaper at supermarkets around Halloween, I stock up on them and make my own puree that I freeze in individual serving sizes. I like to pour the puree into Ziploc-type sandwich size bags that I lay out on a cookie sheet so they are flat. I put the cookie sheet in my freezer overnight and the next day, I stack the frozen, flat packages of pumpkin puree into gallon size Ziploc-type bags, label the bag with the contents and date that I freeze them and I have pumpkin puree all year round that I can use to make pancakes, quick bread, pumpkin pie oatmeal, monkey bread, smoothies, cream cheese spread to use on bagels and English muffins, whipped pumpkin dip, pumpkin bars, scones, overnight pumpkin French toast, waffles, lasagna, ravioli, and in stir fries.
By the way, I make my own pumpkin pie spice because it is much cheaper than buying it at the supermarket. I use Ceylon cinnamon, which is true cinnamon, rather than Cassia cinnamon that is sold in supermarkets. Cassia is sometimes called “Indonesian cinnamon” or “Chinese cinnamon”. Ceylon cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka (initially that country was called Ceylon) and you can only get it from Whole Foods Markets, spice shops, Amazon.com, and several other sources online.
Please share the different ways that you use pumpkins.