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Can You Eat your Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin?

Its fall and thoughts turn to pumpkins! Can that large pumpkin sitting on your front porch still be used for eating? Sure — as long as it is in good condition and hasn't' yet been carved. Pumpkins typically used for jack-o'-lanterns usually are larger, with stringier pulp and more watery flesh. However, you can still eat the jack-o-lantern variety with fairly good results.

If you're buying a pumpkin specifically for eating, the smaller ones are usually the best. These sugar or pie pumpkins generally are sweeter, less stringy and have a deeper, richer color. Pumpkin seeds from any pumpkin can also be dried and roasted.

How do you prepare fresh pumpkin for making a pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread?

  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Wash the outer surface of the pumpkin thoroughly before cutting to remove any surface dirt that could be transferred to the inside of the pumpkin. Remove the stem with a sharp knife.
  3. Cut the pumpkin in half to make it easier to scoop out the seeds and scrape away the stringy mass. Cut the pumpkin into chunks.
  4. Cook until soft in boiling water, in steam, in a pressure cooker, in a microwave or in an oven. Check for doneness by poking with a fork.
  5. Drain the cooked pumpkin. Remove pulp from rind and mash. To cool, place pan containing pumpkin in cold water and stir occasionally. Refrigerate and use within 3 to 4 days.
  6. Pumpkin puree freezes well. Measure cooled puree into one cup portions. Place in zip closure bags or rigid freezer containers. Leave a half inch of space at the top of the containers. Label and date each container. Freeze for up to one year. Use the puree in recipes or substitute in recipes calling for canned pumpkin in the same amount.

Many people are interested in how to roast pumpkin seeds during the fall months. Here are some tips from the National Center for Home Food Preservation:

Drying seeds and roasting seeds are two different steps.

  1. To dry: carefully wash pumpkin seeds to remove the clinging fibrous pumpkin tissue. Pumpkin seeds can be dried in a dehydrator at 115 to 120°F for 1 to 2 hours, or in an oven on warm for 3 to 4 hours. Stir frequently to avoid scorching.
  2. To roast: toss dried pumpkin seeds with oil and your favorite seasonings such as salt, pepper, garlic or cumin. Roast in a preheated oven at 250°F for 10 to 15 minutes. Once cooled, place the roasted pumpkin seeds in a sealed container and store at room temperature.

Source: Home Preserving Pumpkin and Drying Pumpkin Seeds, National Center for Home Food Preservation

Visit our homepage at www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam or you can contact the local office by calling 765.653.8411 for more information regarding this week’s column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. Office hours are Monday thru Friday from 8:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-4:00pm. Evening and lunch appointments are available, upon request. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time. Purdue University is an equal access/equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming Events

October 19 & 26 – Fall Walking Group, 9am, Big Walnut Sports Park, register at 765-301-7641

October 19 – Pork: The No Hogwash Protein webinar, 12 pm register at https://tinyurl.com/WIAWebinars21

October 25 – ServSafe 1-Day Class and Online Exam, 9am-4pm, register at https://purdue.edu/servsafe/workshops 

October 27 – November 3, 10, 17 – Grass to Garden Program, virtual, 6 – 9 pm, $50, register at 765-653-8411

November 7 – Putnam 4-H Awards Program, 2 pm, Fairgrounds.

November 11 – Extension Office closed for Veteran’s Day

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