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Kitchener Market 2017

Pumpkins

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Preview of Pumpkin

Available

September 15 - October 31

Harvest Period

September 15 - October 31

This member of the squash family ranges in size from around 4 kg to 578 kg, the largest pumpkin ever recorded in Ontario. In addition to being a versatile food source for many cultures, pumpkins play an important role in traditions of the autumn season in North America, such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. 

 

What to Look For

 

If you plan to decorate your pumpkin, look for a sturdy stem, a round shape, and not-too-deep grooves. The heavier the pumpkin, the thicker the walls, which can make it hard to carve. For pumpkins you plan to cook with, smaller is better. Look for firm orange skin and hefty weight, and check them over for bruises or cracks, which might be a sign the pumpkin is going bad.

 

Storage

 

A whole pumpkin can be kept in a cool dry place for a few months. But once it is cut, it should be carefully wrapped, refrigerated and used within five days.

 

To freeze, cut pumpkin into uniform pieces and remove seeds.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast at 350F until tender.  The cooled pieces can be left whole, or mashed, before placing into freezer bags or containers.

 

Nutritional Information

 

Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A, as well as thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin C. Pumpkin seeds provide protein and iron.

 

One cup (245g) of cooked pumpkin provides 50 calories, 0g fat, 12g carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber, and 2g protein.

 

How to Use

 

Almost every part of the pumpkin is edible, from the flesh to the seeds to the flowers. Pumpkins can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. The flesh of a pumpkin can be prepared for sweet or savory dishes. It makes a flavourful soup, and of course, there’s always pumpkin pie.

 

To bake: Cut into chunks, remove seeds and fibre from central cavity. Place in baking dish with a little water, cover and bake at 325°F (160°C) until tender -- about 50 minutes.  The pumpkin can be left in chunks or mashed to suit the need.

 

To boil/steam: Cut into pieces, remove seeds and fibre. Cut into large cubes. Boil in lightly salted water or steam for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Remove, allow to cool slightly and scoop pulp from rind.

To microwave: Cut in half, remove seeds and fibre from centre and peel. Cut flesh into 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) chunks. Place in 8-cup (2 L) casserole, cover, and microwave at high, stirring several times, for 15 to 18 minutes or until tender.

To purée: Mash cooked pulp in food processor or blender until smooth; or use a food mill, strainer or potato masher. Drain pulp in strainer for 15 minutes; discard liquid or reserve for use in soups and stews. Pack purée in airtight containers. Refrigerate for up to three days or freeze for up to six months.

To roast pumpkin seeds: An average sized pumpkin contains about one cup of seeds. For best tasting seeds, try Bushkin or Trick or Treat varieties. Wash and remove any bits of clinging fibre. Spread seeds on clean baking sheet; let dry at room temperature overnight. Toss with 1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) vegetable oil. Bake at 250°F (120°C), stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours or until golden brown and crunchy.

 

Varieties

 

Many kinds of pumpkins grow in Ontario, including Howden, Funny Face, Connecticut Field, Prize-winner, Jackpot Hybrid, Trick or Treat, and Bushkin. Small Sugar, Spooky, and Early Cheyenne Pie are the best pumpkins to use for cooking.