Cooking Pumpkins

Pumpkin is a vegetable in the same class as cucumber squash and melon, The name comes from the Greek word “pepon”, which means cooked by the sun. It is native to North America and was one of the plants the Native Indians taught the colonists how to plant and harvest. It can be cooked in many different ways – boiling, steaming, and mashed for use in breads, pies and pastries. Pumpkin pie remains the traditional dessert served at Thanksgiving dinner, which is held in October in Canada and in November in the United States.

Smaller pumpkins are the best ones to use for cooking. This is because the pulp has a sweeter taste. First you have to prepare the pumpkin by carving it. If you want to make it into a jack-o-lantern, you can cut out the stalk and scoop out the pulp, removing the seeds. When Halloween is over, you can then cook the pumpkin in any way you desire. A 5-pound pumpkin will yield about 4.5 cups of mashed cooked pumpkin.

Steaming the pumpkin involves cutting it in half and removing the pulp and seeds. Cut the pumpkin into small pieces and peel them. You then place these small pieces into a double boiler or a colander over steaming water, cover and let steam for about an hour. When the pumpkin is tender, mash it or puree it in a blender. It is then ready for use in any recipe.

You can also boil pumpkin. You prepare it in the same ways as you would for steaming, except you place the pieces in salted water and boil for about 25 minutes or until they are tender.

The seeds of the pumpkin can be used in recipes as well. You have to lay them out on a paper towel to dry and then toss them with your preferred condiments, such as sugar and spices or simple salt and pepper. Sprinkle some cooking oil over the seeds and place them on a cookie sheet. Roast the seeds in an over at about 120 degrees celsius turning them occasionally until they are done to your taste.