How do you choose a pumpkin? 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.
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 pies. Hmmmm. 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.
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!
How To Choose A 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)
- 6 cups raw pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup Agave or 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/4 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper, or your favorite spices
- dash of Real Salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- 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. Helps 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
Here is a great article from the Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic Article on Pumpkin Seeds.
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 a FREE download you’ll want to print out, I promise. USDA Complete Guide To Home Canning.