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Market Haul: Pumpkins 5

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Trick or treat! From jack-o'-lanterns to pie, pumpkins conjure the Halloween spirit.


Happy Halloween!

Today, the streets will be swarmed with little ones dressed as skeletons, ghosts, superheroes, and the whole spectrum of Disney princesses. But, even with all of these classic costumes, the most iconic symbol for this spooky celebration is undoubtedly the pumpkin. These brightly colored squashes come in varieties like Baby Bears, Aspens, White Luminas and Jack-o'-Lanterns. (On the subject of jack-o'-lanterns, check out this fun video history as told by the world's fastest pumpkin carver.)

How to choose it
What to look for in a pumpkin depends on whether you plan to use it for cooking or carving. For carving, you'll want to make sure the skin isn't too hard to cut. To gauge the skin's thickness, pick up the pumpkin and gently knock on it. As a rule, the more hollow it sounds, the easier it will be to carve.

For cooking, smaller pumpkins are generally sweeter than larger varieties. It's fine for the pumpkin to have dull skin, but it should be free from bruises and soft spots. Tug on the stem — if it comes off, choose another pumpkin.

How to use it
Start your day with a pumpkin muffin or smoothie. One of my favorite ways to use pumpkin is in a creamy, delicious soup. I usually make extra and freeze it for a rainy day. I also love adding pumpkin to my go-to dishes, like lasagna, chili and pasta, to give them a seasonal twist. Having company? Impress your guests by ending the meal with an unexpected surprise: pumpkin pie pudding!

If you're carving your pumpkin, be sure to set aside the seeds. Lots of people like roasting them in the oven, but I prefer toasting them on the stovetop. This year I'm going to try cooking them on the grill.

In recipes, when substituting fresh pumpkin for canned, be sure to cook it first. (Full disclosure: I once made this mistake but didn't realize it until everything I made came out terribly.)

How to store it
Pumpkins keep well in conditions that are cool but not frosty. Don't plan to store yours in the house for too long because the relatively high temperature will speed up deterioration. Instead, consider displaying it outside until you're ready to use it.

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How are you using your pumpkins this year? Give us the details in the comments below!

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About the Author
Amy Gordon
Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon is a Wharton graduate who prefers flip flops to business suits. She writes about travel, food, wellness, and social consciousness.

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  • Susan M. 21 days ago
    I do have ceramic decorations, but we also do several carved. When we are done with it we simply cut it into small pieces and leave it out for opossums, skunks, squirrels, etc.
  • lisa p. 2 years ago
    I find pumpkin to be one of the most under-utilized squashes in the USA. We all love going to the pick your own pumpkin patches but have you ever tried growing your own? it's super easy and if you choose variety that gives plenty of good flesh for puree and lots of seeds for roasting, you can make more than just sweets. I nmake a southwestern flavoured savory Pumpkin sauce for Pasta to be served along side fish or chicken with a thicker version of the sauce. It's SO easy. If you can, you just put up cans of puree and then make the recipe with fresh ingredients any time of year. Since Wahoo is a game fish that tends to be cuaght in the fall here in Southern California, we make alot of this dish then. You just ad cream cheese and veggie stock to the puree plus a homemade mix of southwestern spices. I keep the sauce very thick for topping the fish or meat and then thin the sauce out for the pasts. I also add microplaned parmesan to the sauce. If you like it spice, you can add red pepper flakes, crushed. Then, when served, I top the pasta with roasted Pepitas, the inner green part of the pumpkin seed. It's wonderful inb the fall or ANy time of the year. if you have not canned your own pumpkin, you can just buy a can of pumpkin puree but be CERTAIN it is not the canned Pumpkin Pie stuff!
  • Cindy W. 4 years ago
    I have ceramic pumpkins and decorations that I reuse each year.
  • Mary H. 4 years ago
    make pumpkin bread. Maria
  • Deborah J. 4 years ago
    Fried homemade pumpkin pies fried pies
    • joanna l. 20 days ago
      Pumpkin fries are wonderful! My grandma used to make them, and she topped it with a little tomato sause.
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