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Pumpkins

FACTS

• Pumpkin seeds can be roasted as a snack.

• Pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A.

• Pumpkins are used for feed for animals.

• Pumpkin flowers are edible.

• Pumpkins are used to make soups, pies and breads.

• The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.

• Pumpkins are 90 percent water.

• Pumpkins are fruit.

• Pumpkins are just plain good for you. They are low in fat, low in calories, loaded with vitamins and just plain good.

• 1 cup of pumpkin purée has 80 calories and contains less than 1 gram of fat.

COOKING & HANDLING TIPS

• Although all varieties of pumpkins are edible choose smaller pumpkins for eating. Sugar pumpkins are usually labeled by the market for cooking purposes as opposed to those used for decorating or Jack-o’-lanterns.
• Pumpkin seeds can be toasted on a cookie sheet in the oven at a low temperature. Be sure to stir them often and watch for burning. Some prefer to soak the seeds in salt water before toasting.

• Shelled pumpkin seeds can be used as a less expensive alternative to pine nuts in recipes.

• Try cooked mashed pumpkin in cake and muffin recipes for added moisture and texture.

• Higher temperatures cause pumpkin flesh to become stringy. If you end up with a stringy pumpkin, you can beat the pulp with an electric mixer on high speed for ten seconds and then switch to low speed for sixty seconds. The strings should wrap around the beaters for easy removal.

• Homemade pureed pumpkin for pies is usually much thinner in texture than canned. To alleviate excess moisture, bake rather than steam or boil the pumpkin. Mash and drain through cheesecloth before using in pies.

• For cooking purposes, choose smaller sizes, which will have more tender, flavorful flesh.

• Select pumpkins which are free of blemishes, harvested with their stems intact, and those which feel heavy for their size. Unless they are waxed by the grower, a shiny skin indicates the squash was picked too soon. Look for a dull finish.

• Plan on purchasing 1/3 to 1/2 pound of pumpkin per serving as a side dish. Much of the weight will be discarded in the peel and seeds.

STORAGE TIPS

• Store in a cool, dry place, such as an attic or spare room (root cellars are too damp) at 45 to 60 degrees F. up to a month, or refrigerate for up to three months.

• For extended storage, wash skins in a solution of about a tablespoon of chlorine bleach to a gallon of water to disinfect the skin and discourage mold or rot.

• Dry immediately as dampness encourages spoilage. If you find mold, wipe with vegetable oil to remove the mold and seal the spot.

• Fresh pumpkin can be pared and cooked in the same manner as most any winter squash (grilling, boiling or baking)

• Leftover cooked pumpkin can be frozen up to 16 months or canned.