We are pumpkin crazy this season – and for good reason. Pumpkin ticks all the boxes. It stores extremely well, can be used in so many different ways to minimise waste and most importantly, pumpkin means business when it comes to comfort food.
Think pumpkin soup, stuffed pumpkin and ricotta pasta shells and spiced pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing. We cannot get enough. Even pumpkin on it’s own, roasted in the oven and served to accompany a roast dinner is just heaven.
Pumpkin flesh and it’s skin, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin flowers are all edible. Pumpkin flowers can be prepared in a similar way to zucchini flowers, deep fried and ricotta filled and the accompanying leaves are commonly used in Asian culture for curries and soups.
When it comes to cooking with pumpkin, it’s great to have a guide, as the flesh of some pumpkins is too moist to be roasted and some, too dry. It’s also important to note that depending on the region or country, the types of pumpkins available are very different.
In Australia – these are the great offerings that we have access too. Each has it’s own characteristics and purpose in the kitchen:
Queensland Blue Pumpkin
The Queensland Blue pumpkin is a large variety with a grey/blue skin and golden flesh. It ranges from 2-5kg. The Queensland Blue is a dry variety making it great for baking and boiling
The Butternut Pumpkin has light orange skin with an oblong shape. It’s very narrow, making it easy to cut. The Butternut is a great variety for roasting and does not need to be peeled.
Golden Nugget Pumpkin
The Golden Nugget pumpkin is a small variety of heirloom pumpkin, it rarely reaches more than a 15cm diameter. It has a dark orange outer and light orange flesh making it great for stuffing or decorating around halloween
The Jarrahdale pumpkin is grey in colour and is semi ribbed. It has moist deep orange flesh, making it ideal for boiling and not great for baking. It is currently the most popular variety of pumpkin.
The Kent Pumpkin is smaller than most varieties, it ranges from 1-3kg. It has green and yellow skin with a golden yellow flesh. It’s very sweet taste is great for quiches, salads or soup. This pumpkin is also sometimes referred to as a ‘Jap’ pumpkin.
How to pick and store pumpkin
- Choose a firm pumpkin that has no major bruises. Small visual imperfections are fine as pumpkin skin is tough and will protect the flesh.
- Keep pumpkin at room temperature. Make sure it is dry and away from immediate moisture.
- It is also a good idea to keep pumpkin away from fruits like apples and pears as they release ethylene gas which can shorten the shelf life of your pumpkin.
- Fresh pumpkin will last anywhere between 2-3 months.
- Once cut and stored in the fridge, pumpkin will last 2-3 days.
Tips for cutting pumpkin
- Use a large cerated knife to cut pumpkin as the flesh can make it hard to cut through with a regular knife.
- Start by cutting the pumpkin in half and then remove the pumpkin seeds with a large spoon and set aside if you wish to use them.
- Then place the pumpkin on its flat side to ensure that it is stable and cut into desired size pieces.
Perfect pumpkin pairings
- Pumpkin with butter and sage
- Pumpkin baked with garlic and rosemary
- Pumpkin ravioli or pumpkin tossed through a creamy pasta
- Pumpkin soup
- Pumpkin cake, quiche or tart