Picking the Perfect Pumpkin

Fall is here and pumpkins are everywhere! Here are some tips to help you pick the perfect pumpkin:

Pumpkin Varieties

Different varieties are grown for different uses. The size of the pumpkin isn’t the only difference between a carving pumpkin and one that you use for making pies and other fall dishes.

Carving pumpkins typically contain too much moisture to be tasty when cooked, while cooking pumpkins are denser and have more flesh, so they are perfect for pies. Good varieties for cooking include Small Sugar, Baby Pam and the French heirloom.

Pumpkin Selection

Look for a pumpkin that sits flat, is free of bruises, is nice and round and has a deep, orange color. The stem, also known as the handle is important. It should be dark green, indicating the pumpkin is fresh and hasn’t been stored for too long. You shouldn’t pick a pumpkin up by the handle. This can damage it and shorten its life.

Pumpkin Benefits:

  • Great source of vitamin A (plays an important role in vision and skin health)
  • Rich in antioxidants (help give your body a strong defense against disease)
  • Fat free and cholesterol free (heart healthy)
  • Good source of vitamin C (aids in healthy immune system)
  • Fiber (heart healthy and intestinal benefits)

Pumpkin Puree

To make your own pumpkin puree, first choose a small, firm pumpkin for cooking which seems heavy for its size. You only need a 2 ½ to 3 pound pumpkin to have enough flesh for a couple of pies. Preheat oven to 325°. Cut pumpkin in half, stem to base. Remove all the seeds and pulp. Cover each half with foil and bake for 1 hr. Scrape meat from the halves and puree. Strain to remove stringy pieces.

Visit an area pumpkin patch.

Do a search online for pumpkin patches near me. This is a great way to spend outdoor time with your family and move your body while enjoying the season.


Sources: Healthy Kids Challenge and http://www.eatright.org


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