One of my favorite fall sights is a sprawling pumpkin patch. They always take me by surprise. Amid the waning crop fields spring large bright orange orbs. It never fails to make me smile.
I like fresh pumpkin better than canned for several reasons. One, I like to buy things from my local farmers. Two, it’s one less can that needs to be recycled. Three, it tastes better. Plus, today’s centerpiece is tomorrow’s pie. You can’t say that about canned pumpkin.
It does take a little time to cook a pumpkin, but it isn’t difficult. I like to roast a couple small pumpkins at the same time, make a puree and then freeze what I don’t use right away. That way, I get the benefits of fresh pumpkin with the convenience of canned.
Like its winter squash siblings, pumpkins are an excellent source of vitamin A (as beta-carotene) and a good source of a slew of other nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese.
For display and carving, I tend to go for the big, ugly pumpkins with lots of warts. They make for interesting jack-o-lanterns. For eating, I pick the smaller ones with smooth skin. If you are baking a pie, ask your farmer what his/her sweetest pumpkins are.
Next up…how to cook a pumpkin whole…