With a tough skin, scaly stem, and hefty weight, a raw, whole pumpkin looks scary, but cooking with pumpkin is simple.
Choosing a fresh pumpkin
- Check the stem. Long or short, the pumpkin stem should be firmly attached. A pumpkin with no stem, or with a loose stem, will spoil quickly.
- Examine the outside. Surface blemishes are fine as long as they are hard to the touch, but avoid soft spots — an indication that the pumpkin is going bad.
- Follow your instincts. If a pumpkin looks good, it probably is good.
Cook your pumpkin in any number of ways: baked, boiled, steamed, microwaved, or grilled. Preparing the pumpkin is easy — cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Whatever the prep method, a pumpkin is fully cooked when you can easy pierce it with a fork.
Note: Roasted pumpkin seeds make a tasty snack.
Pumpkin preparation tips
- Peel off the tough outer skin before dicing into pieces.
- If you're baking or microwaving large quarters or halves, wait until after cooking before peeling off the skin.
- To divide a pumpkin in half, score the outer rind; then cut through the pumpkin with a knife.
Try these recipes to spice up the pumpkin in your menu. Your guests will go out of their gourds over them!
Top four pumpkin recipes
- Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake is frankly irresistible with a ginger-snap-and-pecan crust, and dreamy swirls of creamy spiced pumpkin.
- Pumpkin Pancakes make a filling fall breakfast. Try them with Chai tea.
- Add a fresh twist to your usual pasta with a pumpkin-based sauce. Fast and easy, Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce is sure to become a lunch and dinner favorite.
- This recipe for delicious Pumpkin Pecan Bread is sweet and delicately spiced.
(Editor's note: In some recipes, canned pumpkin puree may be substituted for raw pumpkin.)
Or, visit the Bakery at Giant Eagle® for a traditional pumpkin pie or one of our delicious pumpkin rolls.