Getting the most out of pumpkin!


Reasons to for runners to eat pumpkin:

  • It’s high in Vitamin A (good for your eyesight)
  • It’s high in antioxidants (helps battle cancers, like skin cancer)
  • It’s high in Potassium, which could make it a great recovery food (move over, bananas!)

Bonus benefit: don’t throw out the seeds (I didn’t!). They are high in phytosterols, which might help lower cholesterol and are also high in magnesium — which just might help you if you’re prone to cramping.

Why cook pie pumpkins?

I don’t usually cook, them, I’ll admit. It’s easier to simply open up a can of pumpkin puree — although did you know that canned “pumpkin” is often a different kind of squash? I digress.

People really into baking would tell you that fresh pumpkin puree tastes much better than canned. I’m not really sure I notice that much difference. We get a veggie box during the Summer, and pie pumpkins were one of our options at the end of the season. I’d read that you could cook pie pumpkins in the Instant Pot — I thought that would help a lot!

Chunked pumpkin with seeds scooped out

Only the pie pumpkins we got were too large to fit in our 6 quart Instant Pot. Not to fear, you can still cook them in your Instant Pot — but it will require more work. Cooking the pie pumpkins in your Instant Pot definitely cuts down on the cooking time.

Cooking Pie Pumpkins in the Instant Pot

  1. Place 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot inner container
  2. Place the steamer in the inner container
  3. Cut the pie pumpkin into large chunks (this takes some strength!)
  4. Scoop out the stringy stuff & seeds & put in a strainer over a bowl
  5. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set it to High Pressure for 5 minutes; press on
  6. After the five minutes are up, let pressure release naturally for 5 minutes (aka do nothing)
  7. After five minutes release the pressure by turning the valve from sealing to venting (make sure to do that with a long spoon so you don’t get burnt by the venting steam!)
  8. Carefully scoop out the pumpkin chunks (I used a fork & spoon) & place on paper towels or a cutting board (we just used the same one that Mr. Judy cut the pie pumpkins on)
  9. Let cool for around 15 minutes — until cool enough to handle
  10. Take a spoon and just scoop the pumpkin off of the skin — it should come off very easily
  11. Put cooked pumpkin in a blender or food processor and puree
  12. Now you’re ready to cook with your pumpkin or put into containers
Scraping out the seeds
Pumpkin seeds draining & stringy stuff
1 cup of water, pumpkin chunks in steamer basket waiting to be cooked, don’t overfill!
Peel with pumpkin scooped off & put into Vitamix to puree

While the steamed pumpkin is cooling, you can run water over the pumpkin seeds to get any stringy stuff off of them.

That mason jar is completely full of pumpkin seeds. I still have plans to make pumpkin seed milk but haven’t yet.

I put a paper towel on a baking cooling rack and just spread the pumpkin seeds out on it to air dry. I haven’t done anything with them . . . yet. Unfortunately they went moldy! I knew I needed a real mason jar, but we didn’t have many available after the great pumpkin massacre.

Mason jars full of warm pumpkin purée — it stays fresh longer because the warm pumpkin creates a good seal

I had two large pie pumpkins and I estimate I got the equivalent of 3-4 cans of pumpkin out of them. Plus a cup of pumpkin seeds. I actually do enjoy pumpkin seeds and use them to top salads or soups, but I’m thinking I might try to make some pumpkin seed milk (which is similar to making almond or cashew milk (see this blog post here) — yes, I still make my own nut milk every week!

What did I do with the pumpkin?

I put the warm pumpkin puree into mason jars — basically, it’s a way to “can” stuff without actually canning. I also do this all Winter with warm soups. Who needs to can anything?

I’ve only made two things so far:

Perfect for cool Fall weather!

Pumpkin Cocoanut Curry Soup
Basically pumpkin and coconut mile and warming fall spices, topped with pumpkin seeds –not the seeds from my pumpkins!

Basically pumpkin pie with no crust

Healthy Pumpkin Custards

I still have a lot of pumpkin! I’ll probably make more pumpkin soup. Maybe some pumpkin chia pudding.  Or maybe pumpkin brownies . . .

When I lived in VT (this is going back almost 30 years) I used to buy pie pumpkins and bake bread pudding right in there. I think I roasted them in the over first, then sliced off the top. Then you just mixed up the bread pudding and poured it into the pumpkin (of course removing the stringy stuff and seeds first) and cooked it until the bread pudding was set. So you’d get some cooked pumpkin with every bite of bread pudding! I used to eat that for breakfast.

Final Thoughts
It was a lot of work, not gonna lie. Luckily pumpkins keep quite well in the fridge for quite some time; I think we had them in there at least three weeks. I put it off until a time I knew I had the energy and the time to deal with it.

Will I get pie pumpkins next year if they’re offered? Not sure! I don’t think it actually saved us money, although maybe a little bit. My guess is I will though — home made is almost always better.

Have you ever tried to cook a pie pumpkin?
What is your favorite Winter squash?


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.


16 thoughts on “Getting the most out of pumpkin!

  1. Sorry. Way too much work. No time for all that.

    I use my pumpkins for decorations and then toss. I know. A waste.

    I do buy pumpkin everything at Trader Joe’s. Very yummy.

    I prefer butternut squash. Just throw in the oven and use it for soup. I do that often in the winter. I vary it with leeks potatoes pears apples etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post reminded me of how much I love pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie! It looks so delicious!
    I have never tried cooking pumpkin myself yet, but I really should try it one day.

    And I never knew that you could make milk out of pumpkin seeds! I use them mostly over salads and soups like you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My mom had pumpkins growing in her garden one year and while it was nice to have pumpkins, it sure felt like a lot of work! I didn’t even know you could make pumpkin seed milk, how cool! I do love the seeds to munch on and we would dry them and lightly salt them to snack on!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Full disclosure: I’m lazy and just use the canned pumpkin puree. Kudos to you, Judy, for taking the time to cook and use the real stuff 😉 I’ve tried toasting the seeds (from carved pumpkins) but have never had any luck with that venture. Mine always turn out soggy and not crunchy…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m actually not a fan of pumpkin! My family never did pumpkin pie at ay holidays and I’ve never cooked with pumpkin. I would imagine that fresh pumpkin is better than canned! It does seem like alot of work though!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pumpkins are not very common here. But butternut squash is very common and used in several meals, either as a soup or mash or just cut up and steamed or roasted. I love how versatile it is! I’m the most impatient cook you will ever meet so I’m in such awe of what you accomplished here! Well done Judy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I always use canned pumpkin these days (although you’re right- it technically is a different kind of squash.) A long time ago, I thought it would be fun to cook a pumpkin pie entirely from scratch, so I cooked my own pumpkin and everything. Well… to me, it wasn’t worth all the extra trouble. Pumpkin puree from a can is just fine! Although, if I ended up with pumpkins in a veggie box like you did, i probably would cook them. I’ve been making a ton of pumpkin-y meals this season! Pumpkin black bean soup, pumpkin chili, pumpkin curry… not to mention pumpkin oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles. Yes, I go a little pumpkin crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

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