Pumpkins can be used right away or stored for use later on. You want to pick your perfect pumpkin when the fruit, yes, pumpkins are fruits, is uniformly orange. If you planted pumpkins that were a color other than orange, the same rule applies to your white, red or leopard spotted pumpkin. Okay, so there is no leopard spotted pumpkin but it would be stunning.
Pumpkin vines should be very dry prior to harvesting the fruit. Pumpkins will continue to ripen once cut from the vine but not if a heavy frost has killed the vines.
Allowing your freshly-picked, washed pumpkins to set in a barn or shed for about 10 days will help the skin to harden, wounds to heal and under-ripe fruits to ripen. Curing the pumpkins in this manner is done best when the temperature in the barns or shed is about 80 degrees and the humidity in the 80-range. Cured pumpkins last longer.
Storing cured pumpkins properly will allow them to last the most amount of time. A preferred temperature of 50-55 degrees with relative humidity in the 50-70 percent range will keep fruits for up to three months. When the humidity is too low, dehydration may occur, too high and the fruit is likely to decay when moisture settles on the skin.
Store pumpkins so they are up off the floor; wooden pallets work well and allow air to circulate. Donít allow the pumpkins to touch one another. Donít store apples with pumpkins. Apples produce ethylene gas as they ripen and are rather the bad boys of the fruit community. Ethylene gas causes other fruit to ripen rapidly and reduces the shelf life. Apples need a space of their own. They would probably run with scissors if given the opportunity.
Pumpkins are high in vitamin A and can be used in soups, stews, breads, pies, custards or roasted with herbs and served as a side dish. Here is a fun way to make pumpkin soup.
You will need:
1 five-pound pumpkin
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 quart milk or unsweetened plain almond or soy milk
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
3 Tablespoons chopped garlic
2 Teaspoons kosher salt
Pepper to taste
You will need to do this:
Carefully cut a lid off the top of the pumpkin. Set this aside. You will need it later. Scoop out the seeds and stringy parts, and rub the inside flesh with kosher salt. Set the pumpkin on a large roasting pan.
Roast garlic cloves whole in oven or covered pan on low heat, until soft. Combine with liquid and spices in a large pot, mashing the cloves and heating carefully so as not to burn the milk. Fill the prepared pumpkin with the liquid and replace the lid, putting a sheet of foil between the pumpkin and its top so it doesnít fall in. Bake the filled pumpkin at 375 degrees for 1-2 hours, depending on the thickness of your pumpkin. Occasionally open lid and check with a spoon, carefully scraping some inside flesh into the hot liquid. If the pumpkin collapses or if the flesh is stringy, remove liquid and flesh to a blender and puree. If it does not collapse it is fun to serve the soup in the pumpkin it was baked in.
Published: October 11, 2011