Decorate with pumpkins and gourds – and then -- gobble them up!

October 6, 2020Lauren Windle

“If you toss your pumpkins after Halloween, you’re throwing out a very healthy all American vegetable – that can be eaten in so many, many yummy ways!” says Jacquie Bols, owner of Jacquie’s Gourmet Catering.

Indiana-grown pumpkins are delicious and nutritious. Fresh pumpkins and squash are an excellent source of fiber, beta-carotene (vitamin A and vitamin C), as well as magnesium, zinc, folate, and potassium. And since pumpkins are 94% water, so they are naturally low in calories.

So, continues Jacquie, If you don’t carve your pumpkin, decorate it with paints or markers instead. Not only can you get creative with pumpkin décor inside and outside your home, the inside of your pumpkin will still be fresh once Halloween is over.”

And keeping pumpkins fresh is a good thing if you are going to eat them. The part that’s ideal for cooking and baking is the flesh -- the peach-colored part of the inside of the pumpkin between the orange rind and the gooey seeds.

Here’s how Jacquie prepares pumpkins and/or squash for cooking:

Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a large spoon. Once the pulpy interior is removed, you can slice the pumpkin into multiple sections and cook it in a small amount of water over low to medium heat on your stovetop. After it simmers, the flesh of the pumpkin will get soft.

Remove the chunks from the water and allow it cool. Then use the spoon to separate the flesh from the pumpkin rind. Break up any chunks of pumpkin in a blender or food processor and you are ready to use it to:

  • Make pumpkin pancakes (add ½ cup or more to your usual pancake batter).
  • Or, freeze the fresh cooked pumpkin (put it in Ziploc freezer bags). Use it this Thanksgiving for the best pumpkin pie you’ve ever had. Jacquie says, “Fresh pumpkin is far better to make pumpkin pie with than canned pumpkin. The taste and the texture is amazing!”

More ways Jacquie uses fresh cooked pumpkin:

  • Add to molasses cookies
  • Make pumpkin bread
  • Add to Crème brulee or flan
  • Use pumpkin in your favorite Carrot Cake recipe – substituting pumpkin for carrots.
  • Healthy-up rice pudding by adding pumpkin, too.

Homemade PUMPKIN CHUTNEY is one of Jacquie’s favorite fall recipes:

6 1/2 lbs pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and diced

3 oranges

2 lemons

2 ¼ cups light muscovado sugar

3 cups cider vinegar

  • Slice the pumpkin into sections and place in a bowl. Sprinkle liberally with salt and toss to to coat. Cover, and leave overnight. Drain of any juices, wash in cold water, then drain again to remove excess moisture.
  • Cut slices down, peel off rind, and remove any remaining pith. Place into large pot with all of the remaining ingredients.
  • Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer uncovered for about 40 mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Cool, then transfer to a sterilized jar and seal.

(These make great hostess gifts.)

A final note: Make sure your pumpkins are a sustainable resource for you – and nature.

If you’ve carved your pumpkin and Halloween is over, don’t throw it out. Cut it in half and place it under a bush or tree at the edge of your property. Deer, squirrels, chipmunks, and raccoons love it!



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