IT’S PUMPKIN TIME AGAIN!

Fortunately, it’s pumpkin time again.

And whether you think of a pumpkin as a fruit or vegetable, it has many wonderful uses in food preparation -- pies, breads, and desserts to name only a few.

As a member of the squash family, pumpkins can be substituted for winter squash or sweet potatoes in many recipes.

Pumpkins and many other squash are surprisingly low in calories–that is, if added fat and sugar are kept to a minimum.  A ½ cup serving of cooked pumpkin or winter squash contains only 40 calories.

When selecting pumpkins for cooking, choose relatively small ones that feel hard, are free of soft spots or cracks, and seem heavy in relation to their size.

Somewhat related to the pumpkin is the winter squash.  This squash is the hard-shelled cousin of the zucchini and summer squash.  Other varieties often derive their names from the shape, color, or structure of the squash, such as acorn, butternut, buttercup, turban, and spaghetti squash. 

Select whole squash as you do baking pumpkins.  Again, choose ones that feel hard, have no soft spots or cracks, and appear heavy for their size. 

If your recipe calls for pureed pumpkin or squash, an easy way to prepare it--other than opening a can--is to cut the pumpkin or squash in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp, and cook cut-side down in a conventional or microwave oven until the pulp is tender.  A microwave oven reduces cooking time from nearly an hour to six to seven minutes per pound.


Pies are just one way to use pureed pumpkin and squash.   Pumpkins are also delicious in chilled or hot soups, and also when used in place of mashed potatoes in a shepherd’s pie.  Baked pumpkin and squash halves are attractive and tasty when stuffed with meat, rice, and vegetables.

Pumpkin Seeds

To dry: Carefully wash pumpkin seeds to remove the clinging fibrous pumpkin tissue. Seeds can be dried until crisp in the sun, in a dehydrator at 115 to 120 degrees F for 1 to 2 hours, or in an oven on warm for 3 to 4 hours. Stir frequently to avoid scorching.

            To roast: Toss dried pumpkin seeds with oil (1 teaspoon per cup of seeds). Salt or season to taste. Roast in a preheated oven at 250 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pumpkin Pie or Custard

            Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Blend together a 13 oz. can of evaporated skim milk, 2 eggs, a 16 oz. can pumpkin, 3/4 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 1 hour. Pie is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. To cut the fat, omit the pie crust and bake in 8 individual custard dishes for 40 minutes at 375 degrees F.

For more information on pumpkins and winter squash,  visit the Home & Garden Information Center website at http://hgic.clemson.edu.

NOTICE:  Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.