With the holidays quickly approaching, the time is now to start thinking about those holiday sweets and treats that tempt us with their sugary, gooey goodness. One of my favorite deserts this time of year is pumpkin pie, but I will eat just about anything having pumpkin in it. To many, the thought of making a pumpkin desert on your own can be a little overwhelming. The key to success, though, is making sure you pick the right pumpkin. Follow my tips for choosing the right pumpkin for your dish and you will be on your way to a holiday desert that will make your festivities even tastier!
Carving Pumpkin versus Baking Pumpkin
The best pumpkin to get for cooking will be much smaller than the pumpkins normally sold around Halloween for carving. These pumpkins can often be found in your local grocery store and are labeled as “Pie Pumpkins.” Aside from being smaller, they have a much more uniform shape and color than carving pumpkins, and their skin is smoother.
Pie pumpkins are the perfect variety of pumpkin for baking. Their taste is much sweeter than a normal pumpkin as they have a higher sugar content. Their flesh is also more tender and makes for a much easier cooking process.
How to Choose a Pumpkin for Baking and Cooking
When choosing a pumpkin for cooking, look for a uniform size and color, with skin that is free of bruises and blemishes. The skin should have a dull look to its color, as shinier skin indicates that the pumpkin was picked too soon. Also, consider the weight of the pumpkin. You will find pie pumpkins that range in weight from 1-2 lbs, up to 6 lbs. Remember that most of the weight of the pumpkin lies in its rind and seeds so, as a general rule, consider ½ lb as a per serving weight.
Storing Your New Baking Pumpkin Until Ready to Use
After purchasing, store pumpkins away from other fruits and vegetables in a cool, dry place for up to one month. Ideal temperature should be at least 50 degrees, but not more than 65 degrees. Storage is important because in warmer temperatures, your pumpkin will get soft quickly. You can also store a pie pumpkin in the refrigerator for about two months. Pumpkins can be frozen but must be cooked prior to freezing. Pureed pumpkin can be frozen for up to one year.