Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater
October is here and pumpkins seem to be everywhere. We see piles of big, orange pumpkins at roadside stands, ready to be taken home by happy children and made into jack-o'-lanterns. Less visible are smaller, sweeter varieties, to be cooked. These are called standard pumpkins and are graded by size, from small to jumbo. Small pumpkins for cooking are called sugar pumpkins. When visiting our local Amish grower's market where the emphasis is on cooking rather than on Halloween, I was surprised at the different kinds available. I was especially intrigued by the white "cheese" pumpkins. The skin is white and the flesh is the color of cheddar cheese with a sweet, aromatic flavor.
Choose a pumpkin with unblemished skin for longer storage, and keep in a cool, dry place, such as a garage where the temperature will be around 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A good pumpkin stored this way will keep for a month. If you have room in the refrigerator, it will keep for 3 months. When buying, look for skin that is dull, not shiny, indicating that it is ripe. Shiny pumpkins are either not fully ripe, or have been waxed. If you are going to cook a pumpkin, first sanitize the skin in a solution of one tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water. Scrub it well, then rinse with lots of cool water. This is a good practice for any squash, gourd or melon.
Pumpkin seeds can be cleaned off and roasted to be enjoyed as a snack or to be shelled and used as a replacement for expensive pine nuts. These shelled seeds can be purchased and are usually called pepitas.
Canned pumpkin is almost as good as fresh, and we can be sure of a consistant product. It's inexpensive too, so don't hesitate to use pureed, canned pumpkin in recipes. Do make sure you are not buying pumpkin pie filling, which has sugar and spices added, unless that's what you want.
Nutritionally, pumpkin is high in vitamins A and C and fiber, as well as a long list of other nutrients, and 1/2 cup is only 30 calories.
We're starting off with a famous recipe for a foolproof pumpkin pie. We'll compare that with a creative lower calorie version that is so close to the original your guests won't know the difference.
- Original Pumpkin Pie - it's the gold standard for pumpkin pies.
- Lower Calorie Pumpkin Pie - the recipe does not include crust as it can be made with or without, as you choose.
Pie is not the only thing to make using pumpkin. Our Calorie Count Members have been entering pumpkin recipes into the Recipe Analyzer since it was first introduced. Here are some of the most interesting pumpkin recipes we've found.