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Cooking Fresh Pumpkin

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I have seen and posted myself several recipes involving the use of fresh pumpkin. This is a "how to" from my local paper on how to prepare a fresh pumpkin.

Ingredients You'll Need

pumpkin that weighs at least 4 pounds


I have seen and posted myself several recipes involving the use of fresh pumpkin. This is a "how to" from my local paper on how to prepare a fresh pumpkin.

How to prepare a fresh pumpkin

To make 1 pound of pumpkin puree, you'll need a pumpkin that weighs at least 4 pounds.

You'll need a large, sharp knife, a cutting board, paper towels and a large metal serving spoon or ice cream scoop.

First, secure your cutting board by placing a wet paper towel between it and the kitchen counter. This will help prevent the board from moving while you are cutting the pumpkin.

Place the pumpkin on its side and roll it on the cutting board until you find the flattest side for the safest cutting position. Hold it securely with your free hand. With your sharp knife, cut off the top of the pumpkin a few inches below the stem. Turn the pumpkin cut-side down onto the board. This gives you a flat, stable base. Cut down through the blossom end to halve the pumpkin. Scrape out and remove all the seeds and stringy fibers from each half.

To roast and puree pumpkin

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Coat a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil.

Place the pumpkin, cut side up, on the prepared pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for at least one hour, and up to one hour and 15 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to roast the pumpkin, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes or until tender. It is done when a fork easily pierces the flesh.

For puree, allow the pumpkin to cool. Scrape the flesh from the skin and mash it to a pulp. Place the pulp in a metal colander and put in the sink or over a larger bowl. Cover the pumpkin pulp with a small plate that fits just inside the colander and weigh the plate down with a couple of food cans or something similar. Allow the puree to drain for about an hour before using it in a recipe.

To prepare pumpkin for risotto

Follow instructions above through scraping out and removing all the seeds.

Place one pumpkin half flat on the cutting board and cut again lengthwise. Repeat with the other half. You should now have four long wedges.

Peel each wedge with a sharp peeler, discarding the tough skin. Cut each pumpkin quarter lengthwise three or four times, then cut each wedge into 1/2-inch pieces.

Picking a pumpkin

While we usually don't think of Texas as a "pumpkin" state, it is fourth in U.S. commercial pumpkin production - the majority being grown in West Texas, according to the agriculture experts at Texas A&M University.

Cathy Littlejohn of Gustine in Comanche County sells her family's Littlejohn Farm produce, including a variety of ornamental and pie pumpkins, at the Cowtown Farmers Market in Fort Worth. Central Market also sells some Texas-grown pumpkins, and those are labeled as such.

What's what when it comes to pumpkins?

In general, the smaller (about 2 1/2 to 6 pounds) orange varieties of the species Cucurbita pepo, such as 'Baby Pam,' 'New England Pie' and 'Baby Bear,' are recommended for cooking.

The 100 percent pumpkin in the cans of Libby's come from a cultivar called 'Dickinson Select,' according to the company's Web site. All the company's pumpkins are grown around Morton, Ill.

Pumpkins, technically a fruit, are native to South America. They are good sources of beta carotene and fiber, and are low in calories and fat, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture research.

- Gwin Grogan Grimes

Gwin Grogan Grimes is a culinary school instructor, cookbook author, consultant and baker.

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