NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Pumpkin Season

Pumpkin Season

 

Pumpkins, like other squash, are native to North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 BC, were found in Mexico.

Pumpkins are widely grown for commercial use, and are used both in food and recreation. Pumpkin pie, for instance, is a traditional part of Thanksgiving meals in the United States, although commercially canned pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie fillings are usually made from different kinds of winter squash than the pumpkins frequently carved as jack o'lanterns for decoration around Halloween.

The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. The main nutrients are lutein and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body.

From the botany viewpoint, all pumpkins are winter squash: mature fruit of certain species in the genus Cucurbita. Characteristics commonly used to define "pumpkin" include smooth and slightly ribbed skin, and deep yellow to orange color. White pumpkins have become increasingly popular in the United States. Other colors, including dark green also exist. The term “pumpkin” has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning, and is used interchangeably with "squash" and "winter squash" in some areas.

Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and even the flowers. When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted; the seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack.

Try the following yeast bread recipe for a new version of an old fall favorite – pumpkin.

 

Farm Style Pumpkin Bread

Yields one loaf

 

1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree

1 cup warm water (100 degrees F/40 degrees C)

1 tablespoon warm water (100 degrees F/40 degrees C)

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 pkg active dry yeast

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornmeal, or as needed

 

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1.     Place pumpkin puree into a large mixing bowl and whisk in 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water, salt, yeast, and pumpkin pie spice until thoroughly combined. Beat in flour to make a dry crumbly dough. Keep stirring until dough becomes smooth and sticky, 2 to 3 minutes.

    Cover bowl with a damp towel and let dough 2-3 hours to rise.

    Generously sprinkle cornmeal onto center area of a baking sheet. Scrape dough out of bowl, using a floured spatula, onto a heavily floured work surface. Dough will be sticky. Dust dough with flour and gently flatten into an oblong shape. Fold 2 opposite rounded ends together to meet in the center; fold remaining 2 rounded ends to meet in the center, creating a rectangle of dough. Using well-floured hands, gently form into a round loaf with the seams on the bottom.

Transfer dough round onto center of prepared baking sheet. Dust top and sides of loaf generously with more flour.

Dust a dry towel with flour and place towel with floured side down over loaf. Let rise until loaf has almost doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours. Use a sharp knife to cut a 1/2-inch deep slit across the top of the loaf.

Place a loaf pan containing about 2 inches of water onto a bottom rack of oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Bake on center rack of the preheated oven for 30 minutes; turn bread around in oven. Continue to bake until bread is golden brown and crusty, about 20 more minutes. Let bread cool completely on a rack before slicing.

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