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Driving down a country road every roadside market is selling pumpkins this time of year.  Is the goal to find the biggest, roundest pumpkin?  It depends on its purpose.  If you are looking for a pumpkin to decorate – you probably do want one that is big and round.  But, if you are choosing one to cook then you want a smaller, heavier pumpkin.

Pumpkin contains antioxidants, Vitamins A and C, and some B vitamins, iron, calcium and fiber.  It is a great way to obtain your daily vegetable requirements. They can be baked, boiled, steamed or pressure cooked.  1 pound of pumpkin yields about 1 cup of cooked pumpkin.

  • Start by washing the pumpkin thoroughly with cold water.  Do not use soap, dish detergent or bleach when washing since these household products are not approved for human consumption.
  • To bake:  cut in half or pieces, remove seeds and stringy parts.  Place cut side down in a baking dish, add 1/4 inch of water and bake until tender.
  • To boil:  cut in half or pieces, remove seeds and stringy parts.  Cook in salted water, scrape out shell and use as a puree in pies, breads, or casseroles.
  • For longer storage, extra pumpkin can be frozen.

Don’t waste the seeds you cleaned out of the pumpkin, roast them.  A  one-ounce serving has 163 calories and almost 8 g of protein.  Try this recipe from the University of Illinois Extension.

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS (yield 2 cups)

  • 1 quart water
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil or melted, unsalted butter
    1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
    2. Pick through seeds and remove any cut seeds. Remove as much of the stringy fibers as possible.
    3. Bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the seeds and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, spread on kitchen towel or paper towel and pat dry.
    4. Place the seeds in a bowl and toss with oil or melted butter.
    5. Spread evenly on a large cookie sheet or roasting pan.
    6. Place pan in a preheated oven and roast the seeds for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir about every 10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
    7. Cool the seeds, then shell and eat or pack in air-tight containers or zip closure bags and refrigerate until ready to eat

On a nice fall day traveling through the countryside, choose a couple of pumpkins, a big, round one for decoration and a small, heavy one for cooking and eating.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewed by:  Elizabeth Smith, NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension.

Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Sources:

Ohio State University Extension Ohioline, Selection, Storing and Serving Ohio Squash and Pumpkin. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5530.pdf

USDA ARS NAL Nutrient Data Laboratory http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/list

University of Illinois Extension, Pumpkins and More. http://urbanext.illinois.edu/pumpkins/seed.cfm

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