What’s in Season: Pumpkins

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Nothing says, “It’s fall, y’all,” quite like our favorite orange gourd, the pumpkin! Pumpkins are the symbol that soon leaves will be falling and a signal for most turkeys to run for the hills, as they’ll soon find themselves on your finest holiday china. Yearly, pumpkins adorn our porch steps, table centerpieces and treasured recipes, but have you ever taken a step back to truly appreciate the pumpkin?

This fall, whether you’re carving a whimsical Jack o’ Lantern or whipping up your grandmother’s pumpkin and nutmeg pie, give a moment to think about this seasonal squash.

History:
The earliest pumpkin seeds were found in Mexico and date back to 5500 B.C., meaning that they are native to North America. However, there is some speculation that pumpkins originated in Asia and were introduced to North America in prehistoric times.

By definition, the pumpkin is a fruit and belongs to the gourd family. The word pumpkin is derived from the Greek pepon, meaning “large melon”. Pumpkins range in colors, varying from oranges, to reds, and yellows.

Did you know that carving pumpkins was originally an Irish tradition? Jack O’ Lanterns are based on the tale of Stingy Jack, in which he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity roaming the night with nothing but a carved out turnip and a single coal for light.

Nutritional Information:
Pumpkins are considered to be a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as dietary fiber and other essential minerals.

Selecting:
To make sure you choose the best pumpkin, knock on its exterior first. You should hear a hollow thump. Inspect the pumpkin’s stem for any evidence of rotting, and check the outside for small holes or soft spots, which could signal insects.

Storing:
If not being used right away, pumpkins can be stored a few weeks or months depending on the age of the pumpkin. For the longest shelf life, store your pumpkin on a soft material, such as cloth or straw, in a cool, dry place with little or no direct sunlight. Pumpkins stored in this method typically last no longer than three months.

You can also puree your pumpkin and store it in the freezer for much, much longer. This would be useful for year-round pumpkin pie!

Not sure what to do with all of those seeds? Our test kitchen has the answer!

Most Common Varieties:

Miniature or Small Pumpkins: The smallest pumpkins weigh only about 2 to 5 pounds, like the Baby Bear, Winter Luxury and Spooktacular; they are best for table decoration, however some are useful in cooking.

Intermediate Pumpkins: Varieties like the Magic Lantern, Merlin and Appalachian are slightly heavier, coming in between 8 and 15 pounds. These pumpkins will make the best Jack O’ Lanterns with their traditional orange colors and easy-to-handle sizes.

Large Pumpkins: This type of pumpkin includes the likes of the Aspen, Big Autumn and Gold Strike and weigh between 15 and 20 pounds. They are also great for carving and cooking.

Extra Large Pumpkins: Gold Rush, Jumpin’ Jack and Mammoth Gold make up this variety of pumpkin. Weighing between 20 to 40 pounds, pumpkins of this size are mostly used for decorations and carving.

Jumbo Pumpkins: The Prizewinner, Atlantic Giant and Big Max are examples of these whopping pumpkins! These varieties can weigh well over 100 pounds! Pumpkins of this variety are grown purely for their size.

Carve out some delicious pumpkin recipes today!
Pumpkin Rum Pie
Pumpkin Baked Ziti
Pumpkin Roll Cake
Souffled Pumpkin Pancake
Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Read More From What's in Season.

Read More From Holidays and Entertaining.

Read More From Halloween.

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Reader Comments:

54321

JUST LOVE INDIAN SUMMER, AND ALL THE COMFORT FOODS THAT WE ADORE THIS TIME OF YEAR. WATCHED JAMMIE THIS MORN -oct. 6,2013 ALWAYS ENJOY HIM AND FAMILY EVEN IF IT WAS AN OLD ONE. COOLER NITES AND MORNINGS, BEAUTIFUL SCENERY, ACTIVITES AND CURLING UP TO SOME GOOD FOOD. LIKE BEANS AND CORNBREAD, CASSEROLES- I COULD GO ON. ALWYAS LOVE BOBBY;S SHOW ON COOKING CHANNEL. BEST TO HIM AND HIS NEW BRIDE. WHEN IS HE GOING TO HAVE HER ON AS A GUEST. HUGS AND GREETINGS FROM BEAUTIFUL CT. ROSIE

By rOSIE hERDMAN on October 06, 2013

54321

I am looking for the recipe for Pumpkin Roll. It is made in a jelly roll pan. Before rolling it, a creme cheese mixture is spread on it. Then rolled up like a jelly roll. I looked in your southern recipes and did not find anything like it. Thank you, JoAnne Long Florida

By JoAnne Long on November 19, 2012

54321

Paula, I just want to take this time out to tell you just how much I enjoy watching you and you family working together in the kitchen. I have lot of love and respect for you all. I watch your show everyday and I just love to watching your sons as well. The relationship that you have with your sons is priceless and I pray that god will continue to bless and keep you and your family. Last June for my birthday I finally received one of your cookware items, I kept hinting around and finally I received your frying pan and believe me know one uses it but me.

By Denise E Fryor on October 12, 2012

54321

Hi Paula - Do you have a receipe for Pumpkin Pound Cake? I'd like to make one - thought about using a Sweet Potato Pound Cake receipe. Would it work? Donna

By Anonymous on October 30, 2011

54321

Hi Mary, Here is the recipe you're looking for: http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/recipe_view/pumpkin_gooey_butter_cake/

By Jonathan Able on October 26, 2011

54321

I would like to know if you have a recipe for pumpkin spice bread using a sugar substitute " Splendor. ".

By geraline on October 26, 2011

54321

I watched your show yeasterday w/ your son and you made a cake mix in muffin tins and then cut in half and put some pumpkin mixture i8n it. Could i please haVE THat recipe.

By Anonymous on October 24, 2011

54321

Dear Paula: I love your show but don't get to watch it anymore because I can't afford the cost of the cable. But I would like to ask you for a recipe. You baked one of your sons a birthday cake and you put a warm, carmel sause on it instead of frosting. I think that is the same sause my mother used to put on our cakes instead of frosting. Well my mother has passed away but she could not remember her recipe either. Could you please send me your recipe so I can remember how great a cake tastes with it. Thank you so much and God Bless you and your families. Linda Westfall

By Linda Westfall on October 22, 2011

54321

Paula: Do you have a recipie for pumpkin pudding with Chocolate Ginger snap crumb topping and pumpkin whipped cream? i had this in Cracker Barrell and I just knew I might find it from one of your delicious creations. Help. My family loved and we are hoping to recreate it for the holidays. Jackie

By Jackie Fernandez on October 18, 2011

54321

Paula, I just want to tell you how wonderful you are. My dear Aunt Ernestine, pasted a couple of years ago, and you were her favorite person. I have to say that everytime I watch you, I think of her. I love you just as much as she did, but you hold an even more meaningful place in my heart since her passing. Have a wonderful life, and may you continue to prosper. Love and best wishes (dishes) to you and your family

By lori on October 18, 2011

54321

PAULS, IWAS AT A PARTY AND THEY HAD THIS WONDERFUL CAKE THEY SAID CAME FROM ONE OF YOUR RECIPES. sOMETHING WITH A CAKE MIX, PUMPKIN, BUTTER, CREAM CHEESE AND MILK. CAN YOU PLEASE SEND THAT TO ME. THNAK YOU; MARY

By MARY on October 15, 2011

Hello everybody! Happy New Yr and of course Merry Christmas. I feel a little not on time with the actual greetings sorry about it. Just want to applaud the author of the web page with regards of the quite great work carried out. I will certainly come to this web site more regularly. I’m still in college and I ‘m rather busy crafting term papers. Sites like your own guide me get plenty of useful tips on what I will write. I read tons of info on line lest I
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To sum up, my genuine greetings to you and all the finest.

Truly yours,

Josh

By SalmaErax on January 06, 2012

Paula, Sweetie do you have a recipe for pumpkin and cream cheese rollup cake? I love your show and you are an inspireation to all us gals over fifty. You’re living proof that life gets better after our hair turns silver! lv ya Granny Franny

By Fran Cassidy on October 26, 2010

I would love to be on your fb pages to get some of your recipe, That I see u on T.V. I love your shows, I see them everyday, Your friend Jackie Beal

By Jackie Beal on October 22, 2010

Hi! I love this website, you have the best dishes. I cook for my dad all the time and use most of your recipies, I love them and can’t wait to try pumkin recipies!!!!

By Rose Adams on October 22, 2010

Paula,
I have heard you say the pumkin is from the gourd family.  Well, I planted some gourd’s and I mean I got a lot of gourds, well I picked one about 8’’ long and fryed it like I do squash, rolled in meal and it teasted just like squash.  Have you ever tried this?  It was very good.  Let me know what you think. Jewel Correll

By Jewel Correll on October 22, 2010

Hi!  Thanks for all the GREAT info!!  Your site is one of my ablsolute favs!!  My problem??  You have info about pumpkins—which are the ultimate fall produce!!  BUT….no pumpkin muffin recipes???  DARN!!  I thought for sure…..

By Krisi Garrand on October 21, 2010

Hello young Lady I want to thank you for sending your butter browny to walmart, again thank you. I was mad because you took so long to send them to walmart, how ever I will forgive you. I hope one day you and my family will get the opportunity to met you.

By Jerome Whitehead on October 20, 2010

hi paula, just watched your show ” cooking with paula”  you were cooking for 2. you nd your husband were eating steak, asparagas, and chocolate pie in your mothers glasses. i am going to make these recipes for my husband also. hope dinner turns out to look as good as yours. from one southern girl to another ,you are the greatest. lv you lots

By connie hopson on October 20, 2010

Dear P-P-Paula,
I am soooo hungry.  Can you help? What do I eat.

By Nate Lumpkin on October 20, 2010

Paula, I have been watching you since you did that show with Gordon Elliott going around fixing meals with what people had in their refrigerator.  To one Southerner to another you are the greatest so family oriented and wrapped up in one big box.  Love you girl.

By Carolyn Wells on October 20, 2010

To Linda in Hyde Park, when I buy pumpkins for pie baking, I just buy the ones that you would use for jack-o-lanterns.  I cut in half, scoop out inards, use potato peeler to peel off rind, cut into same size chunks and boil/steam until tender when poked with fork.  Once fork tender I put into colinder to drain and cool off before I start mashing away.  Something to keep in mind, there is quite a bit of water in cooked pumpkin so you will need to squeeze as much as possible.  I use a cheese cloth, place pumpkin in it, twist to squeeze out water and put aside.  If you don’t do this step your pie filling will be too watery.  I may try roasting a pumpkin this year to see how the flavor differs, if at all.  Also wondering if there will be less liquid expelled from the flesh if roasted.

By Patti on October 20, 2010

Omg…Paula,

I watched You on TV for a long time, then got hooked on this dang computer—but then I saw Your FB connection and well, I just wanted to say that You, Your life, Your programming..everything You have going is SOOOOOO SOOTHING homey, so “Normal”. So full of life. You just MAKE ME “HAPPY”..that’s all lol

Wasn’t gonna do it but changed my mind, whichis: carve pumpkins and create a little front porch vinette…Then try to get in this kitchen and rattle some pots pans…Times are hard for a lot of folk, but coming together for a meal (sit the bottoms down around the table too!), no matter how modest the fare~~~is such a simple thing to do and the return benefit is far more precious than GOLD…. to the soul and to the family.
Thank You for REMINDING us of these simple, bonding events..

All good things to and for You lovely Ms Paula

K~~

By Kristine on October 18, 2010

everyone uses pumpkin in pies ,cakes cookies but where I come from we use pumpkin in its truest form. Fried pumpkin ,peeled&shredded; ,melt 1stick butter (real butter) add pumpkin in a large skillet ,1 cup sugar ( real sugar) and cook on low to medium heat till pumpkin is translucent. stay with it it isnt something you can put on the stove and walk away ... my family waits all year for this I serve as a side dish with pork chops and my husband puts it on his biscuits , good hot or cold try it.Carolyn Key

By Carolyn Key on October 18, 2010

Paula, I know you’ve been told this before, but you are THE BEST !!!! I love evrything about you smile  And I hope my hair will be as pretty as yours in a year or two….

By Tammey Taylor on October 18, 2010

We use our spice mix from our spicy-candied pecan recipe for our toasted pumpkin seeds. The seeds from the white ghost pumpkins have a thicker texture, so we try to mix with seeds from the orange varieties. We do some hot, some sweet and bag them up for family. -Jerry

By Jerry Simmons on October 18, 2010

I watch you all the time, enjoy your show. I have your cookbook and your mag. So glad to see you on Facebook. love yo you alice hoyt

By Alice M. Hoyt on October 18, 2010

Hi Paula, Learned a lot of interesting things from your article, thanks. I’m wanting a recipe for a real light pumpkin pie recipe—more like a pumpkin custard pie. If you have one , would you share.  Love your programme-it’s such a happy show. !

By Sylvia on October 18, 2010

What is the best type of pumpkin to buy for pies? I really don’t want to use canned pumpkin.

By Linda Penney on October 18, 2010

I just love this time of year.  Going to the pumpkin patches to get my yearly supply of pumpkins for my fall baking needs. 

I have been baking pumpkin pies from scratch the past 24 years, only missing one yr due to illness.  I love to bake pies and give them to friends for their holiday family dinners.  For one friend in particular, I bake a pie for him, one for his son and then one for the rest of the family. 

The past couple of years have also made Paula’s Pumpkin Bar recipe and am asked to bring all the time to family gatherings along with my pies. 

I have a food saver and freeze the pumpkin puree in bags pre-measured for my various recipes, that way I can bake with it all year long.

Thank you Paula for all your wonderful recipes and tips!  Keep ‘em coming!

By Patti on October 18, 2010

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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 7:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 3:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm