Growing, storing and Using Pumpkins

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Pumpkins would have to be one of the cheapest and easiest vegetable we grow, though they do spread out taking up alot of room they are great for those areas not alot else can be grown in. This past Spring we planted them on a pile of compost created over winter and on top of an area of lawn that allowed for plenty of growth. Pumpkin scraps and seeds are just thrown on top as we discard them, they don’t really need starting in pots and alot of TLC babying them along.

The only problem we ever experience with them may be powdery mildew which is (usually) easily fixed with milk sprays. Homegrown pumpkin is so much better than store bought, they are hardy both in growing and storage. We harvest after the plants have died off and we leave most of them to get a couple of good frosts…this gives a deep dark orange flesh and a rich, sweet flavour. Pumpkins should be harvested with a two cm stem on the fruit and stored, not touching each other, in a cool and dark airy place. They generally last up to 9 months but do need to be checked.

This week I have been going through our stored pumpkins and removing any that are showing signs of deterioration. Offending areas can be cut out and the rest used. Any excess can be just cut and frozen raw in bags. They won’t lose flavour but the texture is affected, they break down quicker on cooking.

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I also cook pumpkin in salted water and mash it, freezing the puree in 1 cup quantities to use for baking. I also tend to make vegetarian lasagne, or a mixture of beef and vegetable, when I have the pumpkin already cooked and on hand to use.

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In New Zealand pumpkin is used alot as a vegetable, eaten either roasted, boiled or mashed. My son’s new wife is from Indiana, USA, and she was surprised by this, telling me her family have bought pumpkins to hollow out for Halloween but the flesh has always been thrown away !! We don’t really celebrate Halloween here but pumpkin is a common fresh vegetable in meals. Canned pumpkin has never made the shelves in supermarkets here (as far as I know).

I have tried roasting pumpkin seeds a few times but have never got them quite right, I don’t know that I will try again. Pumpkin flowers, like zucchini, are delicious fried in batter and both the vegetable and the flower can end up on a platter of Beer Battered Tempura Vegetables.

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We also use pumpkin, often leftover roasted, in vegetable quiches. Our absolute favourite though is this Pumpkin and Silverbeet Quiche

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Though Roger isn’t much of a soup eater I could live on it. Pumpkin soup with a little bacon, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato and Roast Pumpkin and Carrot soups are all very yummy but my favourite is the Spicy Pumpkin and Lentil.

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Pumpkin and Vegetable Bake (a terrible photo I have forgotten to sort!) and variations on Pumpkin Chickpea Patties are both good!! We also enjoy Roast pumpkin Hummus.

A recipe for Pumpkin Walnut and Raisin Bread here

Two things I still have not tried is the famous pumpkin pie and these yummy looking pumpkin pancakes at the wonderful Chocolate Covered Katie site.

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13 thoughts on “Growing, storing and Using Pumpkins

  1. My ex was a Yorkshire man and when we first met he called pumpkins ‘cow fodder’ and wouldn’t go near them. It took a bit of persuading but eventually he was converted. I used to make a pumpkin pie many years ago and it was delicious! You must make one some day.

    I also want to try drying my own seeds – I am considering a dehydrator for many reasons and this is one of them. Do you dry before roasting? I wonder if that is the way to go?

    I have noticed that store bought pumpkins don’t last like home grown ones – I kept one whole last Winter after I got fed up with pureeing and within two months it was rotten. Home grown is definitely the way to go – I would if I could 🙂

    Great post Wendy – so many recipes to try! 🙂

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    • Hi Pauline. The recipes I have seen for the seeds are just washed well and roasted. The last batch turned out ok but still had the odd yucky chewy one in….they are awful if not spot on. It took so long to clean them I don’t think I will try again.

      I keep saying I will make pumpkin pie but never do, I truly MUST 🙂

      Roger won’t eat Kale or swedes for the same reason, “cow fodder” lol

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  2. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words says:

    Oh I knew I should have waited, I need to come back in the morning so I can be more awake as I wander…I have questions about your pumpkins 🙂
    I will be back…Thank you, this is a great post…
    Take care…you Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

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  3. Perfect timing! I live in Indiana and this is the first year I’ve gotten pumpkins to grow in my garden. They usually die long before harvest. Because I’ve never gotten one to grow to maturity, I planted 10 plants this year. And half way through the summer, I have about 50 lovely pie pumpkins. Your blog gives me many more ideas for use other than the pumpkin pies we love so much at Thanksgiving. Thanks so much for this blog & tell your daughter-in-law hello from a fellow Hoosier.

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    • Oh, wonderful to meet you 🙂 My son and daughter-in-law are all the way over in Indiana right now 🙂
      What a great harvest you are going to have! The pumpkins are the most important veg we grow really as they are so versatile….I do hope you find something here you can use. I really must try this pumpkin pie everyone speaks of as being so yummy!

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  4. jum, very good recipes. I have lived in The Netherlands and Canada and now since two years in the USA…always and everywhere we ate pumpkins in soups, stew, risottos, biscuits, pancakes…ha, always on look out for more recipes! thank you for sharing and looking forward to follow your blog. Johanna

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  5. Awesome share Wendy, I am drooling at 6am! I adore pumpkin and even though the rats and the possums did their level best to scoff every single pumpkin that grew here I still harvested enough so that I only just finished using the last of them last week. You are right about superior flavour as you can pick them when they are perfectly ripe and they keep amazingly well. I even eat steamed pumpkin with steamed apple and dates for breakfast as it’s delicious, filling and sans grains if you need a bit of a grain break. Excellent post and just got pinned 🙂

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