Pumpkin recipes for pie and coffee drinks seem to abound this season. Warming pumpkin spice is one of the prime comforts of this season. But pumpkin is so much more than spicy pie. Pumpkin is one of the more nutritious vegetables available in the fall. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy antioxidants, pumpkin can be a corner stone in your healthy harvest menus. Pumpkin is also inexpensive at this time of year. If you grow your own or have neighbors that do, pumpkins and winter squash are almost free.
I woke up on September 4th to sub-freezing temperatures for the first time since June. The squash vines were blackened and limp. If the temperature had been just one degree colder we would have lost our whole squash harvest to freezing. But instead of lamenting our lost summer, we got to work to salvage what we could of the heat-loving garden plants.
We harvested 28 larger pumpkins and winter squash plus myriad of immature pumpkins , zucchini, and winter squash. It was the biggest haul of squashes we’ve had so far here in zone 3. Thanks garden.
With the windfall of winter squash I need more recipes than pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin pie. So I pulled together a few healthier versions of the best pumpkin recipes I could find. You can use this list, like I will, for inspiration and ideas as you look at the basket of pumpkins and winter squash from your own garden or from the farmer’s market.
Once you see how healthy pumpkins and winter squash actually are, you’ll be looking for a few more to store for the winter.
How to store pumpkins and winter squash
Winter squash and pumpkins can be stored in a cooler area (under 50°F) for 3 to 5 months. Squash with higher water content will have a shorter shelf life. Densely fleshed pie pumpkins often stay good in cold storage till March. Store in a single layer with newspapers. Wash off any dirt. Wipe the hard outer shell of squash with a sanitizing wipe (1/4 cup vinegar, 12 drops lemon essential oil) to remove any surface bacteria.
Once cut open pumpkins should be used up within a week. Larger pumpkins can be baked and then pureed. The puree can be frozen.
How to dehydrate pumpkin
Pumpkin can be dried in a dehydrator. It can be powdered and added to baking as a gluten-free flour. It can be used as a thickener in gravy or stock. 10 pounds of pumpkin or winter squash will make ¾ pound of dried squash or pumpkin flour. Peel the pumpkin. Remove the seeds and pulp. Blanch pieces of squash for 4 minutes. Dry on dehydrator trays or in the oven.
How to can pumpkin for food storage
Pumpkin or winter squash are low acid vegetables and can be canned in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure. Only cubed pumpkin should be processed at home. Pumpkin puree is not considered safe for home canning. Allow two pounds of pumpkin per quart jar.
Process cubed pumpkin or winter squash at 10 lbs pressure for 90 minutes for quarts or 55 minutes for pints. If your altitude is above 1000 feet use 15 lbs pressure.
A few healthy pumpkin facts
- 1 cup of pumpkin has more than 200% the recommended daily vitamin A allowance, in the form of b-carotene. In fact pumpkins contain more b-carotene than carrots.
- Pumpkin pulp and pumpkin seeds are a rich source of linoleic acid and other antioxidants
- Pumpkin aids in the removal of heavy metals from the body
- Pumpkins are rich in potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and pectin.
- Pumpkin pulp contain 1.5% protein
- Pumpkin pulp is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two essential antioxidants for eye health
- Pumpkin contains vitamins A, B complex, C, and E
- Pumpkin is one of the best anti-aging, functional foods because of the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals contained in the plant.
- 400 grams of pumpkin seeds contain enough protein for the needs of an adult
- Pumpkin promotes angiogenesis and helps prevent several types of cancers
- Consumption of pumpkin, which is high in fiber and pectin, promotes healthy digestion
- Consumption of pumpkin reduces cholesterol and protects against heart disease
- Pumpkin energetics: cooling and moistening
- Consumption of pumpkin helps to bring blood glucose into normal range
- Pumpkins also help with weight loss
- In herbal medicine, pumpkin seeds are used as a wormer and to remove tape worms from the body
- Pumpkin seeds reduce the risk of prostate cancer
- Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory properties and ease arthritis
- Pumpkins promote healthy blood pressure
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