Have you ever wondered if there was a way to use those gorgeous orange pumpkins besides just for jack-o-lanterns? The answer is “yes” – cook and eat them! Learning how to cook pumpkin is easy and fun.
To help you learn how to cook pumpkin, you can watch me cut and cook one in the following video, a free illustrated printable and a photo tutorial. You know those pumpkin recipes you have? They are just about to get better!
I love to stock up on discounted pumpkins after Halloween! I was even able to work a deal with the owner of a local pumpkin patch to glean his pumpkins after Oct 31 which means, we loaded our van with pumpkins and they are coming out our ears! 😉
The nice thing about pumpkin (a winter squash) is their ability to keep for long periods of time if they are kept cool and dry. One year, I made the mistake of leaving them outside when the temperatures dropped below freezing. Needless to say, it did not take very long and they began to rot. Thankfully, it was not a total loss – the cows loved them!
So, now I store any excess pumpkins in the basement workroom where they will be protected from the weather and stay cool. As I have time, I will cook and freeze them and, of course, toast the pumpkin seeds!
Before I tell you how I cook pumpkin (and don’t forget the free illustrated printable at the bottom of the post for you!), let’s look at reasons you should be eating this beautiful orange vegetable!
8 Reasons Why You Should Know How to Cook Pumpkin and Eat It!
- Pumpkin can help you loses weight. Pumpkin is high in fiber which makes you feel fuller. This means you will eat less! Pumpkin has about 3 grams in every cup and each cup of pumpkin only has about 50 calories in it. The high fiber content is also excellent for you colon health.
- Pumpkin is good for your eyes and your eyesight. Because of the high amount of vitamin A found in pumpkin (almost twice the recommended daily allowance) it is especially good eye support. The vitamin A can help with declining retinal function and the carotenoids in pumpkint are also converted to vitamin A in your body. The carotenoids (also know as beta-carotene) give pumpkin their bright orange color.
- Pumpkin may help prevent cancer. Pumpkins are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene which have been shown to help prevent cancer by the NCI. When looking for beta-carotene look for orange veggies like carrots, butternut squash and sweet potatoes.
- Pumpkin may help promote better sleep and mood. Tryptophan is found in pumpkin seeds in high amounts. Tryptophan is found in milk and turkey and is the reason that you feel so sleepy after your Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner. Although, some say that it is the overeating that causes the drowsiness after these normally large meals! Tryptophan helps the body make serotonin which is a happy hormone that helps you relax. The serotonin can help improve your mood while the tryptophan can help you sleep.
- Pumpkin can help build your immune system. Pumpkin is rich in vitamin C. One cup of cooked pumpkin has about 11 milligrams of vitamin C! The amount of vitamin C found in pumpkin is about twenty percent of the recommended daily intake level for women!
- Pumpkin can help lower blood pressure. It is actually the pumpkin seed oil that is thought to help decrease blood pressure so, be sure to toast those seeds! Pumpkin seed oil is full of phytoestrogens. Research has shown that phytoestrogens can help prevent hypertension.
- Pumpkin is heart healthy. Again, it is the seeds that we are talking about mainly. But, given its high vitamin levels and low calorie content, pumpkin itself is a wonderful addition to a healthy lifestyle. Pumpkin seeds, like other seeds and nuts, are naturally high in the chemicals called phytosterols. Research has shown that these phytosterols help reduce LDL or the bad cholesterol.
- Pumpkin helps protect the skin and keep it young looking. Carotenoids found in pumpkin are what neutralize the free-radicals that can cause cancer and damage in the body. Carotenoids are the same chemicals that help your eyes and prevent cancer – they are good to have around!
Do all these reasons encourage you to learn how to cook pumpkin? I hope so!
That does not mean, though, that you should only indulge in sugary pumpkin desserts. You can try Pumpkin Bread or Muffins, Pumpkin Soup with Dumplings or even Pumpkin Soup made with bone broth (recipe coming soon!)
How to Cook Pumpkin
I have tried several different ways to cook pumpkin. The shell is hard and getting it off can be a challenge. In the past, I have used a potato peeler to peel the pumpkin then cube and boil it. That absolutely kills your hands!
Now, I have found and easier way that doesn’t hurt your hands! Plus, it enhances the flavor of the pumpkin.
Be sure to take a few minutes and watch the video especially if you learn by watching.
I love to see what other people are using so here are a couple of things that I use in the video. These items are linked to Amazon so, if you have Amazon prime, they will ship free!
Knives – After having the same knives for years, I got these Cuisinart knives and love them.
Cutting Board – This cutting board also comes in handy especially if you are cutting smaller pumpkins. When cutting really big pumpkins, I normally just cut them on the counter being careful not to let my knives hit the counter so they don’t get dull.
Now, for the photo tutorial:
First, cut the stem out of the pumpkin top and cut the pumpkin in half. You can take the seeds out either before or after you cut the pumpkin in half.
In the center, you will find stringy pulp and seeds. Pull this out with your hands or scrape out with a spoon and set aside. You will notice that it is somewhat slimy feeling. That is normal just get in there and get to work! I promise, it will be worth it!
Cut crescent shape wedges of pumpkin from the top of the pumpkin to the bottom, about 2 inches wide. Following the grooves in the pumpkin shell make it easier to cut.
Place the wedges on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350F until a fork inserts easily through the shell and the meat is tender – about 45 min.
Allow the wedges to cool enough to handle. Using a knife, trim off the shell.
Now, you are ready to mash and use the pumpkin, puree it or even put it in the freezer containers to freeze and use later. If I am not going to use the pumpkin immediately, I cube it, place it in freezer bags and freeze it. Then, when I am ready, so is my pumpkin!
Download the Illustrated Printable: How to Cook Pumpkin
These printables are intended for personal use only and not for resale. Please do not alter or sell them without my personal written consent.