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How to Cook with Fresh Pumpkin

How to cook with fresh pumpkin - It's simple and easy to use fresh pumpkins to make puree. You can freeze it to save it for later use in recipes like pie, bread, and cookies. What to do with a fresh pumpkin to make a healthy meal. Great for fall and especially Thanksgiving.

Cooking with Fresh Pumpkin

Until very recently, I was under the impression that pumpkin came from a can.

Har har. I knew it was a vegetable from a vine, but I didn't know how to use one.

I had no idea how to select a fresh pumpkin, how to cook one, or what to do with the pulp. And then I got a couple of fresh pumpkins for free. I couldn't let them go to waste, so I figured out how to use fresh pumpkin.

Here's what I learned:

Picking a Fresh Pumpkin

When you select a pumpkin, choose one that is most dense. In other words, you want one that is heavier than you expect for its size.

In addition to the weight of the pumpkin, you should check the skin. The best pumpkins are totally firm, like a marble. Soft or squishy spots are already beginning to rot. Stay away from those.

Be careful about pumpkins that are mottled with lighter spots. Those spots mean that the pumpkin was frosted or frozen and will likely not be prime for eating. If you were intending to use it for carving or decoration, these pumpkins would be okay, but they will spoil sooner than their unfrosted counterparts.

Look for a sweet, sugar, or cooking pumpkin if you can. They are typically smaller (under 5 pounds) and darker orange than field pumpkins. The big old Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins are not the best for eating. You can eat them, but they don't taste as good as the smaller ones.

Cooking a Fresh Pumpkin

This part is easy. You have lots of options in terms of cooking the pumpkin. My two favorite methods are baking and microwaving.

Roasting/baking

To roast your pumpkin, wash it well, put it in an oven-safe dish (it might leak while cooking) and stick it in the oven. Really, that's all there is to it. Turn the oven to 400 degrees and cook it for an hour to an hour and a half, until it's soft.

Microwaving

Basically the same as roasting. Wash the pumpkin well, put it in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave it in 10-minute increments until it is soft.

Whichever cooking method you choose, please let your pumpkin cool before attempting to use it. When you slice it open, copious amounts of steam will pour out. Please be careful so you don't get burned!

Preparing the Pumpkin Pulp

Once the pumpkin has cooled, you can cut it in half with a very large knife. If it's been cooked long enough, it will be easy to cut. Scoop out the seeds and set them aside for roasting later

Depending on your intended pumpkin recipe, you may need to puree the pumpkin in a blender or food processor. This part can be a little tricky, so work in small amounts and use lots of liquid. If your recipe calls for milk or water, you might want to add it to the blender first, before you put in the pumpkin pulp.

Using the Pumpkin Purée

You can eat pumpkin, mashed, like you would eat potatoes. Put some butter on it to melt and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar or brown sugar, and it is delightful!

You can freeze your pumpkin in 2 cup portions – that's how much is in a can of pumpkin puree that you would buy. Use as you like whenever you need it.

Of course, you can make a pumpkin pie. I have an awesome recipe for that.

Please don't limit your pumpkin recipes to pie. Why don't you try these recipes?

© 2008 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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41 thoughts on “How to Cook with Fresh Pumpkin”

  1. Hmmm we don’t have that type of pumpkins here but maybe it can work with the local ones too. Thanks for all these great ideas.

  2. Hmmm we don’t have that type of pumpkins here but maybe it can work with the local ones too. Thanks for all these great ideas.

  3. Mmmm yum… thanks for the recipe links! My fave pumpkin recipe is Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes, you can’t even tell there’s pumpkin in them!

  4. Mmmm yum… thanks for the recipe links! My fave pumpkin recipe is Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes, you can’t even tell there’s pumpkin in them!

  5. Yay! I love pumpkin! Some day I’m going to grow up and try these things.

    LOL @ pumpkin coming from a can.

  6. Yay! I love pumpkin! Some day I’m going to grow up and try these things. LOL @ pumpkin coming from a can.

  7. My son has been after me to make pumpkin pie with the small pumpkin he got at school. I’ll have to give your recipe a try!

  8. My son has been after me to make pumpkin pie with the small pumpkin he got at school. I’ll have to give your recipe a try!

  9. I’ve never had the incentive to use fresh pumpkin, when the Libby’s can is so convenient.

    But I’ve always admired those who can!

  10. I’ve never had the incentive to use fresh pumpkin, when the Libby’s can is so convenient.But I’ve always admired those who can!

  11. I’m sure my grandmother would be rolling her eyes…I should have paid more attention when she was making all her home-made dishes. I’ve wondered as well how to do this. That Pumpkin Bread Pudding looks yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  12. I’m sure my grandmother would be rolling her eyes…I should have paid more attention when she was making all her home-made dishes. I’ve wondered as well how to do this. That Pumpkin Bread Pudding looks yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  13. For our Food Pantry in our Church we gave out Pumpkin recipes since we got a lot of canned pumpkin to give out. People said that they couldn’t afford to bake pies so we tried to find other ways for them to use it. I’ll look at your recipes to see if we can add to our list.

    BTW, I tagged you for an award!

  14. For our Food Pantry in our Church we gave out Pumpkin recipes since we got a lot of canned pumpkin to give out. People said that they couldn’t afford to bake pies so we tried to find other ways for them to use it. I’ll look at your recipes to see if we can add to our list.BTW, I tagged you for an award!

  15. i wish you had posted this a week ago! i was at a pumpkin farm for a class field trip a week ago and i asked the owner what sort of pumpkin to use for baking. she told me she preferred these beige-ish pumpkins. i went with that. i was so excited because it was only 6 bucks for like a 20 pound pumpkin. yeah, well, little did i know that a small sugar pumpkin yields enough for making a batch of pumpkin bread. i made puree yesterday, and i must have like 10 cups of pumpkin puree in my fridge!

  16. i wish you had posted this a week ago! i was at a pumpkin farm for a class field trip a week ago and i asked the owner what sort of pumpkin to use for baking. she told me she preferred these beige-ish pumpkins. i went with that. i was so excited because it was only 6 bucks for like a 20 pound pumpkin. yeah, well, little did i know that a small sugar pumpkin yields enough for making a batch of pumpkin bread. i made puree yesterday, and i must have like 10 cups of pumpkin puree in my fridge!

  17. Thank you for linking to my post about making toasted pumpkin seeds! 🙂 This is a great article!

    Have a terrific week! ~ Lisa

  18. Thank you for linking to my post about making toasted pumpkin seeds! 🙂 This is a great article!Have a terrific week! ~ Lisa

  19. Thank you for the info on how to cook pumpkin and the yummy looking recipe links! I’m not much of a pumpkin pie eater, but there are several other recipes that I like with pumpkin. The soup sounds yummy!

  20. Thank you for the info on how to cook pumpkin and the yummy looking recipe links! I’m not much of a pumpkin pie eater, but there are several other recipes that I like with pumpkin. The soup sounds yummy!

  21. Great article. I will have to print it out. I did just make a curry pumpkin soup I posted yesterday, but I use canned for now. That is until I read your article and learn a little something 🙂

  22. Great article. I will have to print it out. I did just make a curry pumpkin soup I posted yesterday, but I use canned for now. That is until I read your article and learn a little something 🙂

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