In our culture, a pumpkin is a fruit of beauty! We grow them for size, for decorations, and to be processed and canned, which is how most of us use them! Who does not love this fruit's breads, pies, or soups! They're a staple in the crisp fall months!
Other cultures include them in their traditional dishes too! They are a delicious healthy diet habit, not just for a great dessert, but as the centerpiece of your dinner meal, as a decoration or for carving!
Some Facts about Pumpkins:
Some Facts You Might Not Know:
- They are the world's largest fruits technically, but most of us consider them a vegetable. They are considered a fruit because they grow on a vine and contain seeds.
- They are a member of the Cucurbita family which includes squash, melons, and cucumbers.
- They can grow to over 1000 pounds, when they are grown with special care.
- A 5 pound version will give you about 4 ½ cups of fresh puree, and one 16 oz can of puree will give you about 2 cups of puree.
- They come in varying shades of white, yellow, and orange!
- They take about 4 months to grow, until they are ready for the picking!
- We traditionally use them in pies, breads, and soups, but other cultures use them far more! We are just wising up and experimenting with new recipes!
- They are mainly grown to be processed.
- Roasted pumpkin seeds make a great snack.
- 80% of the supply in the USA is available in October.
- They are full of beta-carotene, a carotenoid, which your body turns into Vitamin A, and also potassium and fiber.
- The Pumpkin capital of the World is Morton, Illinois, where the Libby plant is located.
- They are quite famous. Who has not longed to ride in Cinderella's pumpkin chariot or watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?
Costco Pies should be divided into 16ths and not 8ths for proper portioning. Most of us cut them into eighths even though the pies are huge! A 1/8ᵗʰ slice of Costco pie will run you 431 calories.
Tips for Using Pumpkins
- Roasting seeds: Separate the seeds from the fibrous parts. Put them in a colander and rinse them with water. Place the seeds in a pan and cover them with salted water (1/4 cup of salt to 2 quarts water). Bring them to a boil and simmer them for 2 hours. Drain them and dry them on paper towels. Put the seeds on a cookie sheet. Baste them with 4 T. melted butter. If you like spiciness, add 1 t. cayenne pepper or less, and ½ t. pepper too. Roast them for 10 to 30 minutes at 300 degrees, until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally. Store in a closed container, if you will eat them quickly. If not, freeze them!
- Puree: Most people buy ready-made puree, but it is simple to make. Use a medium sized variety for the best texture. Cut it open and remove the goop and seeds. Cut it into 4 to 8 pieces. Place the pieces on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 to 1 ½ hours until they are soft. Remove the pulp from the rind. Blend the pulp in a blender, mixer, or food processer. If you want it thicker, place the pulp in cheesecloth and drain the extra water. Use this puree in your pies and be ready to be surprised. My mom makes them this way and they are outstanding!
- Microwave Puree: You can also make puree in the microwave. Simply scrub the outer shell clean and place several deep slits around the top. Put your pumpkin on top of saran wrap and wrap it. Microwave until soft, and then remove the seeds and skin. Put the pulp in your food processor until it is smooth. Simple!
- Add this puree to your pancakes, cheesecakes, cookies, cakes, pies, bars, breads, custards or any sweet treat that you can imagine.
- Include them in your dinner menus in soups, chilies, stews, fritters, pastas, or lasagnas! See my Pumpkin Chili Recipe!
- Fill a sugar pumpkin with your favorite stew recipe, and bake it for a couple of hours, until it is tender. Serve the stew and scoop out a bit of the pumpkin with it. This makes a trendy pot luck addition that is sure to be talked about!
- Add 1 to 2 cups of puree to your favorite chili recipe or try this Pumpkin Chili that is full of fiber and a subtle flavor.
- Puree can be added to baked goods as a substitute for the fat. Recipes vary. Some people recommend using half as much as the oil, others recommend using the same amount as the oil, and still others recommend doubling the amount compared to the oil, as this will produce a product that is less rubbery. Experiment away!
Sneaking more pumpkin into your meals is a healthy diet habit and a great lifestyle solution to increase nutrition in the fall season! They are a tasty and filling treat, as well as a fun decoration to carve and show off your artistic skills!
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