Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Pumpkins


Selecting Pumpkins
Pumpkins are easy to grow, but how do you decide which pumpkins are the pick of the crop? Look for deep-orange pumpkins, free of cracks or soft spots. Though large pumpkins make the best jack-o'-lanterns, they tend to be tough and stringy, so they aren't the best for cooking -- try smaller ones, especially the ones called "sugar pumpkins."

A whole pumpkin keeps well for up to a month, if stored in a cool, dry spot. Once cut, wrap the pumpkin and place it in the refrigerator; it should keep for about a week.

Pumpkins
Pumpkin is a versatile food, great
in both savory and sweet recipes.

To prepare, wash off dirt, cut away the tough skin with a knife or a vegetable peeler, remove the seeds, then slice, dice, or cut the pulp into chunks. You might want to save the seeds; when toasted, they make a great snack.

Preparation and Serving Tips

Pumpkin pie is, without a doubt, Americans' favorite food use for pumpkin. But traditional preparation, with heavy cream and whole eggs, transforms a low-calorie food into one that's loaded with calories. Instead, substitute evaporated skim milk for the cream and use only one egg yolk for every two eggs the recipe calls for. You'll cut the fat to about 30 percent of calories, and we predict no one will know the difference. Leave out the crust, making a custard instead, like this hidden pumpkin pie recipe and you'll drop the calories even more.

Pumpkin can be used to make nutritious, delicious, and moist pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or bars. Likewise, you can substitute it for some of the fat in quick breads.

Pumpkin prepared via these nutrititous, low-fat recipes makes for a delicious yet healthy way to treat your taste buds.

Pumpkins are packed with beta-carotene, an important antioxidant. Keep reading to learn about the health benefits of eating pumpkins.

Want even more information about pumpkins? Try these links:
  • How to Carve a Pumpkin: The jack-o'-lantern is a quintessential element of Halloween celebrations. Learn about the basic carving tools and techniques.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.