Many people just love pumpkin! On it’s own, as a side dish, or as an ingredient in a meal. It’s has a very unique and delicious taste to it, which is probably why it’s so popular, and it’s also nutritious to boot.
The pumpkin is also an extremely versatile vegetable, it can be used in salads and soups, in pasta and lasagna, in breads and muffins, and in pies, pastries and tarts. Pumpkin can be used in both sweet and savory meals, it can be cooked and eaten just on it’s own, or can be a tasty ingredient in many cooking recipes.
Pumpkin Cooking, Recipes & Tips:
Popular pumpkin recipes include the undoubtedly famous pumpkin soup, which many people enjoy, often cooked with extra ingredients like onion and cream, and the absolutely classic pumpkin pie, often cooked with cinnamon and nutmeg. When pumpkin is used in recipes, you will find that it goes really well with certain ingredients. It often tastes great with other vegetables such as capsicum and spinach, and also goes well with feta cheese, olives, basil or coriander.
If you like the taste of pumpkin, you are bound to find a large variety of recipes which enhance and enrich it’s flavor. You will also be able to find both sweet and savory dish recipes, as well as main meals, side meals, salads and treats, all which use pumpkin as a main flavor. But first let’s have a quick look at a few basic steps one should know before cooking pumpkin. Let’s find out how to choose a pumpkin, store pumpkin, and of course, how to cook pumpkin.
Pumpkin Shopping & Storing Tips:
How to choose a pumpkin at the grocery store or market
When choosing a pumpkin at your local grocery store or market, there are a few things you can look out for.
- Choose a pumpkin which is bright in color.
- Look for a pumpkin without blemishes. It is preferred that the pumpkin has no bruises, nicks or soft spots.
- Pick a pumpkin which feels quite heavy compared to its size.
- If you choose a small pumpkin, it will be sweeter and more tender.
- If you plan to use the pumpkin in a recipe in which it is cooked, it’s a good idea to choose a pie, sugar, squash or savory pumpkin. Pumpkins grown specifically to be eaten will be a better choice, and will result in a fuller flavor, lots of nutrition, and plenty of color, when cooked.
How to store Pumpkin
- An uncut pumpkin off the vine, can be stored in a dry place, at room temperature, keeping it out of direct sunlight, for about a month or longer. It does vary of course, with the type of pumpkin, how well it was grown and if it had any blemishes when picked.
- Cooked or mashed pumpkin can be stored in the freezer anywhere from 3-12 months. For long freezing, make sure you use an airtight and covered container, or a strong freezer bag.
- To store cut up pumpkin in the refrigerator, make sure you place it in a container with a cover, use plastic wrap, a plastic sandwich bag with a seal, or aluminum foil to wrap it up and store it. It will keep fresh for 2 to 4 days this way.
Ways to Cook Pumpkin:
There are a few different ways in which you can cook pumpkin, all yielding a slightly different result. It really just depends on how you like to cook your pumpkin and which taste you prefer. This is for cooking plain pumpkin, it can be a bit different if part of a larger recipe.
Four methods for cooking pumpkin are baked pumpkin (in the oven), steamed pumpkin (over the stove), microwaved pumpkin (in the microwave) and pressure-cooked pumpkin (using a pressure cooker). When you use the microwave, steaming, or pressure-cooking method, the result of your pumpkin is both creamy and tender. The puree of the pumpkin is also very moist. Cooking pumpkin in the oven has the most different result. As well as being creamy and tender, your pumpkin will have a roasted flavor and also taste more sweet. Baked pumpkin works well in other baking recipes, as it is not as moist as the pumpkin cooked via the other methods.
Cooking Pumpkin in the Oven
- First, cut your pumpkin into chunks. If it’s a small pumpkin, cut it in half.
- Remove any pulp or seeds and discard them.
- Grab an oven baking dish, and fill in with about 1 inch of water.
- Place your pumpkin chunks into the dish, facing the side with no skin downwards.
- Baked for approximately 1 – 1 ½ hours at 350 degrees. Time needed will depend upon the size of your pumpkin chunks. They are ready when piercing with a knife, leaves them tender.
Cooking Pumpkin in the Microwave
- First, remove seeds from your pumpkin and cut the pumpkin into desired size, making sure your pumpkin pieces will easily fit in the microwave.
- Next, wrap up each piece with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Wrap completely and tightly.
- Pop them in the microwave, this time place your pieces with the skin side on the bottom.
- Cook in microwave on the high setting for approximately 15-30 minutes. Time cooked will depend on how much pumpkin you are cooking and the size of your microwave. Stop when they are tender when pierced with a knife.
Cooking Pumpkin over the Stove – Steamed
- First, seed the pumpkin and cut into large chunky pieces.
- Over the side, boil some water in a pot over the stove.
- Then, using a steamer basket. Place your pumpkin chunks into the basket, and then place the basket over the pot of boiling water. Then cover pot with lid.
- Steam the pumpkin for approximately 20-25 minutes. Stop when your pumpkin is soft but hasn’t become mushy (don’t overcook). Check with a knife.
Cooking Pumpkin in a Pressure Cooker
- First, cut your pumpkin into chunks and remove any seeds.
- Use a steamer basket or a trivet and place it in the bottom of the pressure cooker.
- Place in the basket, your pumpkin chunks and ½ – ¾ of a cup of water.
- Close the pressure cooker, lock it, then turn it onto full pressure, cooking for approximately 4 minutes. Before you open the pressure-cooker, first release the pressure.
- Check to see if the pumpkin is tender, if it is not, cover and lock the pressure-cooker again, and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Whenever cooking pumpkin, scoop out the seeds first.
- Pumpkin can usually be prepared in the same way as winter squash.
- To puree, first cook the pumpkin, afterwards scoop out the pumpkin to remove it from it’s skin, and place the pumpkin in a food processor to puree.
Enjoy your cooked pumpkin! Remember that pumpkin can be added to a large variety of dishes, but be sure to cook it properly first, to get the most out of your pumpkin; the best taste and texture.