“When we see pumpkins, we tend to think of them as something to carve up for the holiday,” explains Ryan Fichter, Executive Chef of Thunder Burger. “Yet there are lots of great ways that you can use pumpkin to cook tasty dishes. There are many options, including main dishes, soups, and desserts that use pumpkin.”
When it comes to using this member of the gourd family in your cooking, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Season. Pumpkins are in their ripe season during October and November. This is the best time to get the freshest pumpkins. If you find them a couple of months past that, they may still be fresh, but they are not a product of the main peak season.
- Selection. When selecting your pumpkin, opt for one that is completely orange. Avoid any that have spots that are not ripe, as they may not ripen more after purchasing. Also, avoid pumpkins that have soft spots, bruises, or little holes. Small holes can be an indicator of insects. Try to find one that looks the best, with a nice color and very few to no blemishes.
- Cutting. Before cutting your pumpkin, wash it thoroughly first. Choose a nice big knife for the job, then proceed to cut the pumpkin in half, splitting it open evenly.
- Preparing. Once your pumpkin is split open, remove the seeds and strings. You can cook and eat the pumpkin seeds, as well. These can be baked or roasted, and they make a tasty treat. Then, choose your favorite recipe to use the flesh of the pumpkin. However, note that some recipes call for leaving the pumpkin whole. In that case, you would cut the top off and remove the seeds and strings, rather than cutting it open.
- Ask questions. If you are unsure as to which pumpkin will be best for what you are preparing, ask questions. Those selling the pumpkins can usually point you in the direction of the best pumpkins for pies, soups, etc.