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Five Ways to Cook a Pumpkin

Pumpkin baked
Pumpkin slices baked in the oven with honey, nuts, cinnamon, seeds, and mint.

Pumpkin can be cooked and served as a hot vegetable.

pumpkin is a term that can be applied to almost hard-skinned squash. In the United States, the name pumpkin commonly means a large rounded orange squash.

Pumpkins can be very large or small; the best pumpkins for cooking should weigh about 4 to 6 pounds. Mid-autumn is pumpkin harvest time. Pumpkins that mature in cold (not freezing) weather will be sweeter and more flavorful than pumpkin that matures in warmer areas.

How to Choose a Pumpkin

  • Select a pumpkin that is bright-colored, firm, and unblemished.

How to Store Pumpkin

  • Keep a pumpkin in a cool, dry place away from frost until you are ready to use it.
  • Pumpkins should be used within 1 month of harvest.
Pumpkin sliced for cooking
Pumpkin sliced for cooking

How to Prep a Pumpkin for Cooking

  • When you are ready to cook, use a large knife to halve or quarter the pumpkin then scoop out the seeds and stringy portion. Then cut the halves or quarters into smaller pieces.
  • Three pounds of raw pumpkin will make 3 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin.

How to Steam Pumpkin

  1. Cut the pumpkin from top to bottom into quarters and then slices.
  2. Discard seeds and strings.
  3. Bring one inch of lightly salted water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Heat the cut-up pumpkin to boiling.
  5. Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until tender.
  6. Drain; cool slightly; remove the peel, and mash.
Baked pumpkin
Baked slices of pumpkin with seasonings and rosemary

How to Bake Pumpkin

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Cut the pumpkin from top to bottom into quarters and then slices 1½ inches thick.
  3. Discard seeds and strings.
  4. Combine a tablespoon of canola oil with 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and two pinches of cinnamon.
  5. Brush the mixture on the pumpkin slices.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes; turn the slices and brush with the mixture again.
  7. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes then brown the slices under the broiler if you like.

Roasted half pumpkinHow to Roast Pumpkin

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the pumpkin from top to bottom into quarters and then slices ½ to 1½ inches thick.
  3. Put 2 teaspoons of olive oil or melted butter on the bottom of a roasting pan.
  4. Arrange the pumpkin slices in one layer on the pan.
  5. Sprinkle with sale and pepper to taste and lightly drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Roast without turning until the pumpkin is tender about 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Serve hot or warm.

How to Roast Half a Pumpkin

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half.
  3. Place the pumpkin half on a rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan.
  4. Roast undisturbed for at least 30 minutes.
  5. When the sides start to soften and collapse, turn it over to ensure even cooking.
  6. Continue roasting until deeply colored and soft, about 45 minutes
  7. Serve hot or tightly cover and refrigerate and use within a few days.

How to Panfry Pumpkin

  1. Peel and seed about 2 pounds of pumpkin and cut into large chunks.
  2. Put ¼ cup canola oil in a deep pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. Heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the pumpkin but do not overcrowd the pot; cook in batches if necessary.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cook until the pumpkin slices are brown, about 5 minutes or so. Then turn and cook the other sides for about 5 minutes or so. Add oil if necessary to keep the pumpkin from sticking.

Pumpkin Flavor Partners

  • Season pumpkin with allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, or nutmeg.
Pumpkin harvested
Pumpkin at harvest

Get to Know Pumpkins 

  • Grow small pumpkins (varieties that weigh 4 to 6 pounds at maturity) for cooking; grow intermediate and large sizes for cooking and for making jack-o’-lanterns; grow extra-large pumpkins for an exhibition.
  • Pumpkins will be ready for harvest 95 to 120 days after sowing depending on the variety.
  • Pick pumpkins when they are deeply colored–deep orange or golden white–and stems and vines have dried and turned brown.
  • The rind should be hard, not easily penetrated by a fingernail.
  • Thump maturing pumpkins; a ripe pumpkin will sound hollow when thumped.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Pumpkins

How to Harvest and Store Pumpkins

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