|A type of winter squash that develops an orange outer skin with a golden inner flesh. The sizes of Pumpkins can range from very small to very large weighing close to 1000 lbs when exceptionally large. The larger Pumpkins are generally grown only for size competitions and are not used as a food. The sweet flesh of the Pumpkin is used in baking, often for pies but it is also used in puddings, soups, savory dishes, and stuffings. In the U.S., the Pumpkin is popular to use for ornamental purposes, such as table settings in the autumn as well as jack-o-lanterns for Halloween celebrations. Most often available in late September through October, Pumpkins are composed of 80% to 90% water. High in beta-carotene and fiber, this variety of winter squash provides other nutrients as well, such as protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamin C, and potassium.|
Pumpkin purée is available in food stores as a canned product or a purée can be made from the meat of a fresh pumpkin. There are several types of canned purée that can be purchased in stores. Pure Pumpkin purée that is made totally from the meat of the pumpkin and contains no other ingredients. A second option is a puréed mixture that contains the meat of Pumpkin combined with a sugar syrup, water, salt, spices, and natural flavors which can be purchased for use in making Pumpkin flavored foods. This mixture is often labeled as Pumpkin Pie Mix.
When selecting Pumpkins, choose those that are bright orange in color and thick skinned without blemishes or rough and wrinkled skin. They should be heavy for their size and have an attached stem. Depending on their age when fresh, Pumpkins can be stored for 1 to 2 months in a cool dry area. Canned or puréed Pumpkin meat can be stored frozen, if it is cooked and placed an airtight container or bag. The frozen Pumpkin should then be used within 3 months.
For recipes, 1 pound of fresh pumpkin meat equals: 2 cups cooked pumpkin; 1 cup of puréed; 2 cups of cubes; or 3-1/2 cups of freshly grated pumpkin meat.