University of Maryland Extension

Pumpkins, pumpkins, everywhere!

It may still be early for some, but at my house we have harvested a boatload of pumpkins! While many grow pumpkins for fall decoration, I grow them to eat. Pumpkins are good for more than just pie. Like the acorn and butternut varieties, pumpkin is a type of winter squash, and it can be cooked in a variety of ways.

Pumpkin is a highly nutritious vegetable. As you may guess from its bright orange color, pumpkin is extremely rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts into vitamin A. It’s also a good source of B vitamins, calcium, and potassium. Like many vegetables, it’s low in calories and high in fiber. One cup of plain pumpkin is only 30 calories!

My favorite way to prepare pumpkin is in a curry. I sauté cubed pumpkin and potatoes in olive oil with some spices, just until fork tender, and we eat it over rice. I also like to roast cubed pumpkin, sweet potato, and apples together in the oven for a sweet autumn side dish. Another of our family’s favorites is to batter and deep-fry the plant’s flowers. If I have a surplus, I will add grated pumpkin to a dish like pasta sauce, stew, or meatloaf. It stretches the meal and adds in some extra nutrients.

Since they have hard skins, pumpkins can be stored whole, under the right conditions, for several weeks. A root cellar is a prime place, but if you don’t have a root cellar you can store them in a cool, dry basement. I, however, prefer to store my pumpkins ready- to-use in my deep freezer. After harvesting, I gut and peel them and then either cube, steam and puree, or grate before freezing in small portions.

If you’ve never eaten pumpkin except in pumpkin pie, I challenge you to try preparing it a new way this season!

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