But let’s have a pumpkin refresher course, shall we? It's been awhile since we talked about this. My local farmers’ market has at least 15 varieties of pumpkins that vary in shape, size, and color. Which pumpkins are best for cooking? Although you can use large field (jack-o'-lantern) pumpkins you’ve decorated with outside, there are better pumpkins for cooking. Look for baby, sugar, or pie pumpkins which are much smaller than field pumpkins. All of those varieties are orange and about 5-10 lbs. Most should be labeled at the market, but you can also ask the grower for a suggestion, as there are so many more flavorful varieties.
So how do you make pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkins? Again, there’s more than one good way, but I recommend cutting your pumpkin(s) in half, placing them cut-side down in a roasting pan filled 1/4” with water, and baking at 350°F for 1.5 hours. Let the pumpkins cool and then scoop the flesh into a blender. Spice as desired. Pumpkin puree freezes beautifully…just portion it out in 1-cup quantities so you don’t thaw more than you need (unless you’re going on a cooking spree!)
But is fresh puree really better than canned? The verdict is out on that one—some foodies say yes (like my dear friend Ree Drummond), but others say no. I encourage you all to try making your own puree at least once so you can have the experience of making a truly homemade pie. I tend to use canned pumpkin because the holidays tend to be such a busy time for me. Either way, pumpkin is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. The bright and beautiful orange color is a giveaway that the inside is filled with good-for-you vitamins and minerals. Pumpkins are high in beta-carotene, which not only helps keep your vision sharp, but is also thought to reduce your risk for certain cancers. They’re also rich in fiber—which keeps you full longer.
If you’re cooking with canned pumpkin puree and have some leftover, try adding it to your oatmeal, pancake batter, or even Greek yogurt. For a snack, you could mix it with a little butter and spread on a piece of crusty bread. Or, spread a little on your grilled cheese sandwich. And don’t forget about sauces and casseroles.
Your blog question today, foodies, is what’s your favorite fall recipe? Is it pumpkin pie? Butternut squash soup? Cornbread stuffing? Make me hungry, foodies. I’ll see you Sunday for In the Kitchen with Davidat Noon ET.
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