Choosing and Using Your Pumpkin
It’s officially fall, the pumpkins have arrived. Our local pumpkin patch is in full swing. Its time to pull out the carving tools and pie recipes. Here are some tips to help you choose the right pumpkin for your purpose.
For cooking and pie making, choose a pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin variety. These pumpkins are not as fibrous as the large carving pumpkins and will produce a better taste and texture. If these are not available, a small to medium-small size tender carving pumpkin will do if you must.
Choosing a Pumpkin For Carving
If carving is your goal, choose your pumpkin according to the design you have in mind. Small, tender pumpkins are easier for children to carve, but will not last as long as an older tougher shell. Choose a pumpkin large enough for the amount of detail you intend, but not so large as to lose your design. Inspect the pumpkin carefully for bruises, soft spots, or any indications of mold or mildew. Don’t forget to inspect the bottom and the top around the stem. Firm hard flesh and a sturdy stem are signs of a healthy pumpkin.
Look for a pumpkin that has a flat spot and will sit upright without toppling. This will help keep it stable for carving and displaying. For longer life, consider painting your pumpkin rather than carving, or wait until the last minute to carve your design.
Prepare your pumpkin for carving or cooking by removing the lid and scooping out the seeds and fibrous mess in the cavity. Be careful to create a ledge when removing the lid, so that it will sit on the pumpkin when replaced. Scrape the flesh clean. The seeds can be saved and toasted later for a tasty treat. For easier carving, remove most of the flesh, leaving about an inch of shell.
Your carved pumpkin will keep longer if soaked in water with a little bleach added. This will kill the mold and rot and help preserve the flesh. After soaking, be careful to dry the pumpkin thoroughly.
Preparing a Pumpkin For Cooking
If baking the pumpkin, leave the shell intact, or halve it according to the size and your intended use. For stewing, peel the pumpkin and cut into uniform size pieces.
This pumpkin puree recipe can be used in any recipe where you might use canned pumpkin puree.