By Julia Howard
In the fall, pumpkins adorn everything from front steps to tabletop centerpieces. Unfortunately, while an uncarved pumpkin can remain edible 8-12 weeks after being picked, many decorative pumpkins end up in the trash, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many great uses for whole pumpkins in the kitchen.
Pumpkins are versatile to cook and bake with and offer a world of culinary exploration. They are eaten year-round in different cultures across the globe. In America, pumpkin is famously used in pumpkin pie. But a quick Google search will reveal a variety of recipes worthy of exploration: soups and stews, dips, pancakes, gnocchi, dessert bars, pasta dishes, bread, muffins, cakes, ice cream, smoothies, pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds), and many more.
When cooking and baking with pumpkin, many recipes call for pumpkin puree. Before you add canned pumpkin puree to your grocery list, try making your own. It’s easy and requires little effort with a big return. Roasting 1-2 small pumpkins can yield 5-6 cups of puree.
Also, wonderful on their own – are pumpkin seeds. Simply scrape out seeds, rinse and remove major chunks of flesh, boil for 10 minutes in salted water, drain, and coat with olive oil and seasonings. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Pumpkin seeds are a fun and healthy snack.
If you don’t have leftover pumpkins you can buy them directly from farmers at the farmers’ market, ask them which pumpkin works best for your needs.