How To Choose The Right Pumpkin For Your Family

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Today, It’s all about how to choose the right pumpkin for your family. How do you choose a pumpkin? This is an updated post from a few years ago. Do you love seeing the little kids at the supermarket looking at all the small, medium and large pumpkins in those huge boxes holding them at the stores? Last year I went to a local store to pick up a pumpkin to use for a party. I think it has been 25 years since I purchased a pumpkin to carve for Halloween. The sign said $.89 on this HUGE box of pumpkins….okay, so I throw one in the shopping cart and continue shopping.

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Well, as I am checking out the guy behind me asked where I got my pumpkin. I said “over there,” he then said to me, “Well those are SUGAR Pumpkins.” I asked him, “What’s a SUGAR pumpkin?” He then told me SUGAR pumpkins are used for making pumpkin pie. I thought a pumpkin was a pumpkin. Okay, now I realize this pumpkin is special because it cost me $6.35. I am not getting in line again to return the expensive pumpkin for a cheaper larger one. That sign said $.89. I should have read the fine print that said $.89 a pound. I used to grow pumpkins so I guess I was having sticker shock at the price of this tiny pumpkin. I guess this is not the right pumpkin for me, but it will be this year.

So of course now I am doing the research on SUGAR pumpkins. I must make a disclaimer here, if I’m going to have pumpkin pie with a meal I will BUY the pie at Costco. I will place it in the refrigerator to keep it cold and slice it when ready to serve. I don’t think I could buy the ingredients and make the pie for what Costco makes and sells their yummy ready to eat pies. Add some whipped cream and I am good to go! My mother always made fresh pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, sorry Mom I did not carry on that tradition! Let’s find the right pumpkin for you.

How To Choose Just The Right Pumpkin:

1. never pick up the pumpkin by its stem, it can break off and then bacteria can grow in the pumpkin wound

2. check for bruising or cuts because they can go downhill pretty fast from the tiniest scratch or nick

3. the smaller pumpkins are sweeter, denser and  have a higher sugar content, perfect for pie making

4. the tall ones have stringier insides

5. white pumpkins are easier to paint than the orange ones and are great baking pumpkins

6. harvest a pumpkin when the vines start to dry up and the pumpkin is the color you like

7. make sure the skin is hardened so you can’t crack it with your fingernail

8. tap the pumpkin to see how dense the walls are, thick walls block the candle light

9. the small cooking pumpkins weigh from 3-7 pounds-perfect for pies

10. you can roast and eat the seeds of any pumpkin

How To Cook/Bake Pumpkin Seeds:

Now, one thing I want to add is how to cook or roast those pumpkin seeds you scrape out of your Jack O’Lantern or Sugar pumpkins. Yep, there are a lot of them. There are just a few simple steps to get them ready to throw into granola, to snack on or sprinkle on salads.

1. scrape the seeds out of the pumpkin

2. wash the seeds and let them dry overnight or at least several hours

3. get a cookie sheet and cover it with foil and grease with vegetable oil (so the pumpkin seeds can be removed easier after baking)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup Agave or 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper, or your favorite spices
  • dash of Real Salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine the pumpkin seeds in a medium sized bowl. Combine the Agave or olive oil, Cayenne Pepper and Real Salt in a small bowl. Stir the liquid until blended and pour over the pumpkin seeds. Stir the pumpkin seeds with the liquid until covered. Place the mixture on a foil covered greased cookie sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Stir the pumpkin seeds halfway through the cooking period. Let cool and enjoy! These are great for salads or snacks.

Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds:

1. heart healthy-1/4 cup of pumpkins seeds contains half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium. They may prevent heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure

2. zinc-great immune system booster helps with sleep, depression and mood swings

3. promotes a healthy prostate because of the zinc in them

4. help with diabetes regulation-always check with your doctor

5. postmenopausal-helps with hot flashes, headaches, and blood pressure

6. anti-inflammatory-great for those of us with arthritis issues

Let me know your stories about choosing just the right pumpkin, I would love to share them on this post. Plus, how many pumpkins do you usually grow or buy?

FOUR of my pumpkin recipes

Please Do NOT Can Pumpkin Puree:

If you are thinking about canning pumpkin, please remember it is not safe to can pumpkin puree. Here is some critical information about preserving pumpkins. Please be safe when canning any food. Please check with your local state extension service, if you have more questions.

National Center for Food Preservation

 

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