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What to do with fresh pumpkin

We have a smallish to medium sized carving pumpkin that didn't get carved this year. I know that pumpkin is supposed to be full of vitamins and is actually pretty nutritious, but I've never used a fresh one in cooking before so I have no idea what to really do with it.

How do I prep it for cooking? I'd imagine you'd remove the seeds like you would with any other squash, but after that, I'm uncertain of what to do.

How much of it do you use in recipes (i.e., how much could I make with it per pound or ounce of pumpkin meat)?

Any recipes other than desserts?

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  1. rweater, I use fresh pumpkin for all of my pumpkin recipes- pie, bread, curry, ravioli, soup, bread pudding, you name it. I generally cut it into quarters, remove the seeds, give a light spray of oil, and roast until soft, scoop out the guts, and cuisinart them to make sure they aren't too stringy, then freeze in one or two cup portions. Then I use it in the same proportion as canned.

    That said.... I always use sugar pumpkins for eating, never carving pumpkins, even small ones. Perhaps someone else has tried carving pumpkins ith good results?

    There have been a lot of pumpkin threads lately, so try doing a search as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: happybellynh

      I cooked up my son's jack'o'lantern this year. I don't know which type of pumpkin it was - it was much more watery than the sugar pie pumpkins we normally eat, but it had a 3 1/2 inch thick flesh - more than most jack'o'lantern. Boy it was festive to carve.

      I carved in on Halloween afternoon, so there wasn't any rotting issues.

      Anyway, cut in into big chunks, roasted it a LOng time. The flesh was charred, pureed it, drained it very well, squeezing out the water. I was left with decent pumpkin puree. I used some in tacos last night, incorporated into a mole. My boys had it in their oatmeal this morning, or with some brown sugar and cinnamon. I mix it with yogurt. You can make pumpkin butter. Look for recipes that use pumpkin puree and substitute with DRAINED fresh pumpkin;. Note that the carving pumpkins aren't as flavorful and being so watery don't work well in recipes calling for pumpkin chunks IMO.

      1. re: happybellynh

        Hayypybelly -- would you mind sharing a pumpkin curry recipe that you like? I have three little sugar pumpkins awaiting some magic in the kitchen, and that sounds delicious.

        For pumpkins --- I love to make pumpkin risotto, served in the pumpkins, on a table with softly glowing candles, served with a great fall salad (toasted nuts, grapefruits, pea sprouts, unusual greens) and homemade bread. Mmmm! Sometimes I make creamy pumpkin soup served in the pumpkins too.

        It is great in a pasta bake, or for something sweeter, I like pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread. What great ways to celebrate the flavors of fall!

      2. Pumpkins really are just another winter squash. Unfortunately, the ones sold for Jack-o-lanterns are bred for looks, not flavor. (The squash that's grown for canned pumpkin doesn't even look like a Jack-o-lantern, but the flavor is great.) Jack-o-lantern pumpkins tend to be watery, stringy, and anemic in flavor. The best you could do would be to cut it into chunks and roast it, which will drive off some of the excess water, but you may still need to drain it after pureeing it. You could use it in pureed squash recipes (pumpkin bread, squash soup), but be aware you probably won't be getting a strong pumpkin flavor from it.

        Honestly, you'd be better off keeping it around as a Thanksgiving decoration and buying a good squash or sugar pie pumpkin instead. Sugar pie pumpkins, btw, are a different species than Jack-o-lantern pumpkins, so they're very different even though they look similar.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Karen_Schaffer

          Yes, I knew that there were other species that were more common in cooking. Hmmm...I'm wondering if it would be worth the trouble, to roast, puree and drain, or if we should just roast the seeds and put the rest in the compost heap.....

          1. re: rweater

            I almost suggested the compost heap, but didn't know if you were a gardener! They do make great compost.

            How about roasting it while you're doing something else in the kitchen, then tasting it and deciding if it's worth any more work? Even microwaving a piece will give you an idea of whether it has enough flavor to bother with.

        2. Keep it in a cool area, and use it as a planter for a Thanksgiving decoration. If you are in Canada and already had your Thanksgiving, then maybe as a nice Sunday dinner decoration. I read the directions somewhere online, and didn't save them, silly me, but they did say to clean the pumpkin very well, and lightly "grease" all cut surfaces with petroleum jelly. Then you can place a small bowl or vase inside the pumpkin, with flowers, and/or decorative looking harvested weeds. VOILA! A conversation piece! I also saw, somewhere, about decorating a pumpkin with coloured markers, but personally, I've not had good luck with that.

          AnnieG

          1. I made a tasty pasta sauce recently with fresh pumpkin (butternut squash would be great too) and sage. Here it is:

            - cut pumpkin or butternut squash into small cubes (1/2 inch by 1/2 inch). need about 2 cups of cubed pumpkin. boil for about 15 minutes or until fork-tender. reserve about 2 cups of cooking water.

            - in a deep pot or wok, melt a couple of tablespoons each of butter and olive oil. add a bunch of lightly chopped garlic cloves (I used about 10). After garlic begins to become fragrant and translucent, add about 20 sage leaves (whole). add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper, and a little s+p to taste. cook for 5 more minutes over medium-low heat

            - add cooked pumpkin to butter/garlic/sage mixture. season with 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne (or to your taste). sautee for 5 minutes, tossing to evenly coat pumpkin with butter mixture.

            - add reserved pumpkin water, cover and simmer until pumpkin begins to break up about 10 minutes. use wooden spoon to crush pumpkin if necessary. more water might be needed if mixture begins to stick to pan.

            - add 1/2 cup of cream or half and half. season to taste with salt and pepper. toss with pasta.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sidnek

              that sounds great, as I also have a butternut squash at home that needs eating.

              1. re: rweater

                We just made the delicious butternut soup that has been around for a while. It should work for pumpkin or any winter squash: Cut into ~2 inch squares, roast for an hour, peel, process, etc.

            2. There are some great ideas here. Can I use a cheese pumpkin instead of a sugar pumpkin?

              1 Reply
              1. re: nofunlatte

                I assume you mean Long Island Cheese? I haven't tried it myself, but what I've read is that while it isn't as sweet as some, it has good flavor. So it should work.

              2. Here is a great Thai pumpkin curry recipe:

                Thai Red Curry Beef and Pumpkin
                (8 servings)

                Ingredients

                4 Tbsp. oil
                1/4 cup red curry paste
                4 cups coconut milk (about 2 cans)
                3 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
                2 Tbsp. brown sugar
                1 tsp. salt
                3 cups peeled pumpkin, diced in 1-inch cubes
                1 1/2 pounds of sirloin steak, cut in thin strips
                1 large red bell pepper, cut in very thin strips
                1/2 cup holy basil leaves

                Instructions

                Heat a wok or heavy frying pan until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons of
                the oil and fry the curry paste briefly. Add the coconut milk a little
                at a time, stirring rapidly to blend with the red curry paste. Add the
                fish sauce, brown sugar, and salt. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add the
                pumpkin and continue simmering for about 15 minutes.

                When the pumpkin is nearly tender, heat another skillet until very
                hot. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and stir-fry the beef and
                red pepper strips. Add to the pumpkin mixture and continue simmering
                until the pumpkin is tender. Serve garnished with basil leaves.

                1. rweater, get back to us with what you did, and the results, please?

                  AnnieG

                  1. I don't know which kind I bought but it was fairly big. I separated the seeds for roasting (my favorite snack) and used part of the raw pumpkin meat and the pumpkin stringy stuff (that was the womb for the seeds) and I put both into an eight ounce mug for my smoothie. I added one raw egg, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp cinnamon, 3 tbsp vanilla protein shake powder, 1/2 cup apple cider, 4 ice cubes, 1 tbsn peanut butter. It made a fantastic smoothie!