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How to Cook with Pumpkins

Most Americans view the pumpkin as a carving medium and a pie filling, but beyond the typical uses for pumpkins lies a world of delicious culinary applications. Heirloom pumpkins, grown more for their use in the kitchen than for their jack-o'-lantern potential, offer particular delights for the hungry pumpkin fan.

Some pumpkins are better suited to cooking their flesh, while others are better for roasted seeds, says Mac Condill, owner of the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, Illinois.

Best Pumpkins for Eating

Pumpkins with the most delicious, kitchen-ready flesh feature:

  • Large, swollen stems
  • A buff, tan color
  • High density, with a heavy feeling for their size

Best Pumpkins for Seeds

A pumpkin will be chock full of edible seeds if it has:

  • A long stem
  • A traditional ovular shape
  • A lighter weight

Preparation Ideas

Mac shares easy ideas for cooking seasonal heirloom pumpkins:

Mashed Pumpkin

For a simple mashed side dish, de-seed a meaty heirloom pumpkin, such as the Australian Butter, cut into large cubes, and boil. Serve with butter, as you would mashed potatoes.

Get a Recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Mash

Pumpkin Medallions

Long-stemmed, butternut squashlike varieties such as Tromboncino feature a long neck that's perfect for cooking. After peeling, slice them into thin medallions, then lightly fry with a bit of oil, salt, and pepper.