Pumpkins seem to be connected with the first showers and it is like it was made to add color to those gloomy fall days. It can be used in both sweet and savory recipes – an advantage that few vegetables have! It offers a delicious, rich tasting, sweet flesh along with a high content of carotenoids (to which it owes its pretty bright color). The vitamins, protein and fats it contains, give it a high ranking position among foods that are considered valuable for your bodies. Both its shape and color may differ according to its variety. The most common is the classic pumpkin with a vivid orange color and sweet taste. But very often you will come across the ones that look like a giant pear.
When should they be planted?
Pumpkins need a lot of sun, a lot of water, fertilizer and quite a bit of heat. The ideal period to begin your own… pumpkin patch… is in spring. From mid-May then, you can start growing your pumpkins!
When are they in season?
Pumpkins are thought of as a fall vegetables by chance! The best period as far as its ripening, is fall; and more specifically from October to November. You can, of course find them on the market from August to March, but their flavor is much more rich and sweet in the midst of fall.
How to choose the best pumpkin
It is important to choose a pumpkin that has its stem, a hard exterior, no bruises or scratches and a deep rich color. (They say that this can be associated with its sweetness, but really its sweetness depends on its variety, the soil and climate it is in while it is growing.)
If you decide to buy a piece of pumpkin you should take a careful look at its flesh. It should be juicy and “alive” and freshly cut!
How to use them:
There are countless ways to enjoy this particular type of pumpkin. Apart from the traditional, amazing pumpkin pie… You can make pumpkin puree (a great side to meat dishes), pumpkin soup (which is usually accompanied with chestnuts), pumpkin chips (thinly sliced pumpkin slices baked in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper and various spices such as coriander or ginger). It can be used as a basic ingredient for a risotto or a tart and it can even be added to salads.
And there’s more! Homemade marmalades, jams, spoon sweets, cakes, breads etc. etc. etc! The best spices to use with it are of course – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cumin and paprika!
The life span of a whole (uncut) pumpkin, varies from 2-6 months, depending on its variety and provided that it is kept in the shade, away from direct sunlight or moisture. Of course you need to check on it very often. As soon as you notice that its shell starts to soften, you have cook it quite soon before it starts to spoil.
Once you peel it and chop it up it can be placed in a glass container or a food bag and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also store it in the freezer once you have grated it or cut it up into little pieces, separated into portions and placed in food bags. In the freezer it will last for about 1 year.
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