4 Fresh Ideas for Pumpkin

It wouldn’t be fall without pumpkins! What other delicious fruit can also decorate our front porches in October and November? Pumpkins come in many colors and sizes, and nearly every part of them can be eaten. We use the pulp in pies, cookies, cakes, smoothies, breads, soups, appetizers, main dishes…. The list can go on and on. Anyone who has carved a pumpkin knows to save the seeds for a tasty and healthy snack later on. And if you are feeling ambitious, pumpkin blossoms are delicious when breaded and fried! Here are some fresh ideas for pumpkins from TheRTAstore that go beyond your basic pie or dessert.

Fresh or Canned?

Pumpkin is readily available in the canned goods isle, and packs just as much nutrition in an easier package. But if you have ever wondered if a pie tastes better with fresh pumpkin, our answer is yes! Our favorite varieties for baking include Cinderella and Sugar Pie pumpkins. You can cook a jack-o-lantern pumpkin but the flesh will be watery and stringy, so we would advise against it. The end result won’t be worth the effort.

Choose a pumpkin that feels firm and heavy for its size, with uniform color. Remove the skin with a potato peeler. Cut open your pumpkin and remove the strings and seeds (toss the strings and carcass, but save the seeds)! Cut into large chunks or wedges. You can boil your pumpkin pieces in a large pot until soft, or bake them on foil in a 350-degree oven until the flesh is tender. Cooking time will depend on the size of your pumpkin pieces. Once your pumpkin is cooled and ready, mash with a potato masher or blend in a food processor until smooth. Pumpkin tastes best when used fresh, but you can also freeze your puree for months without loosing quality or texture.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pancakes are a simple, delicious way to use pumpkin puree. Paired with cinnamon butter and warm maple syrup, there is no better fall breakfast. This recipe from Martha Stewart is hands down our favorite. Whisk 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour; 2 tablespoons sugar; 2 teaspoons baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt; 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg; and a pinch of ground cloves. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 cup milk, 6 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 egg; fold mixture into dry ingredients. Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat; pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side; serve with butter and syrup. This recipe makes 8 to 10 pancakes, and can be easily doubled if needed.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

What could be better than mac and cheese for lunch on a chilly day? Pumpkin mac and cheese! Need we say more? Get the recipe here from Better Homes and Gardens — it calls for canned pumpkin, but you can also use your fresh puree (or save it for a tasty pie later)!

Pumpkin Soup

Hot pumpkin Soup is rich and creamy, and so easy to make —perfect for a chilly fall dinner. Our favorite pumpkin soup comes from The Pioneer Woman. All you need is your pumpkin puree, vegetable or chicken stock, heavy cream, nutmeg, maple syrup, and salt. Get step-by-step instructions here, along with helpful photos.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Let’s end with the seeds — trust us, you will be so glad you saved them! Rinse the seeds thoroughly to remove any clinging strings and pulp and pat dry with a paper towel. In a bowl, coat the seeds with oil or butter and a generous sprinkling of salt. Spread them on a cookie sheet and bake at 225-degrees about an hour, or once the seeds are crisp and golden. Be sure to stir occasionally while baking to prevent burning. Cool your toasted pumpkin seeds and enjoy!