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Pumpkin Selection and Storage for Cooking

Pumpkin piesThe keys to selecting the right pumpkin for cooking are similar to those used to select ones for carving. The main difference is in the variety you select. Pumpkins for cooking are sweeter, generally smaller, and less stringy than those grown for carving. The best cooking pumpkins tend to range from orange to brown in color.

When selecting pumpkins for consumption you should focus on the variety and select only those pumpkins that are well formed and mature. Immature pumpkins are more prone to rot and weight loss than mature pumpkins.

Storage - Storing whole pumpkins

Properly selected and stored pumpkins can be used in near farm fresh condition for months (2-6+.) Any pumpkins that have become bruised, cracked, broken, or soft prior to storage should be used immediately or discarded. For long-term storage of fresh pumpkins the ideal temperature range is from 50º - 70º. Lower temperatures will cause chill damage and promote rotting. Basements, pantries and insulated garages are suitable locations provided these locations are free from large temperature swings, vermin, insects, and have adequate ventilation.

Pumpkins should not be stored with fruits such as apples and bananas which produce ethylene gas. This will cause pumpkins and other fruit to over-ripen and rot.

Storage - Canning

For best results pumpkin should be cut in chunks rather than strained and packed in a pressure canner. Pumpkin is a low-acid vegetable. Raw packing is also not recommended.

Storage - Drying

Pumpkin leather can be dried plain in 3" strips and reconstituted for use in pies or prepared with sugar and spices for snacking.

Storage - Freezing

Freezing both cooked whole chunks and puréed pumpkin is an efficient method of long-term storage. It is important to cook the pumpkin sufficiently to kill bacteria before freezing. Excess moisture should be removed after defrosting and before use. Roasted seeds can also be frozen in air-tight containers for later use.

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