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Break Out the Pumpkin Pie!

The other day I saw a “Mutts” cartoon and it said, “Fall is here, break out the pumpkin pie!” And I agree, anything with pumpkin this time of year is my favorite food. Pie, bread, soup, the seeds roasted, you name it! Just to get us all in the mood for pumpkin dishes here some great tips about pumpkin and acorns:

When pumpkins or acorn squash are off the vine it makes no difference to them, weather permitting. If they sit in the farmer’s field, in the barn, on a store shelf, on a front porch or on your living room table they are equally happy. Take a pumpkin or a squash home early and enjoy their cheerful presence until you are ready to use them. Decorate with a few autumn leaves and acorns. They make a lovely centerpiece.

Pumpkins and acorn squash usually start to be ready for harvesting from mid August onwards. With a little careful handling these foods will last you throughout the winter. This is one of the reasons why they were so popular with the early settlers in America. Just keep your pumpkin or squash in a dry place, not too hot, not too cold (not on top of the radiator and not in the refrigerator). Take care not to bruise by letting them touch or be too close. Then if one should start to go bad, it will not affect the others. When you bring your fruit from one temperature into another (e.g.) from the barn to the house) they will tend to “sweat”. Just place them in a newspaper to absorb any moisture until they have adjusted to the new temperature.

If the pumpkin has some green color when you buy it there is no need to worry. This color will fade out eventually and the whole pumpkin will become orange. Just how long this takes depends on the amount of green and the size of the fruit. It is not necessary to pace the pumpkin in the sun. The color change takes place from within.

If you are planning to use your pumpkin for a Jack O’ Lantern, be careful with the stem because some will snap off easily. Even though the stem makes a tempting handle, it is best to lift the pumpkin from the sides. Losing the stem should not cause your pumpkin to go bad. But once you have carved into the pumpkin itself, it probably won’t last more than one week.

However, if you plan to use your pumpkin, don’t forget the seeds. Washed and dried on a cookie sheet they make a yummy snack. Some people like to peel away the tough outer shell and eat the delicious inner seed ‘au natural’. Others like to fry them up in a bit of oil with some salt. Either way, they make a delicious and nutritious snack.

Often people ask how to prepare an acorn squash. One simple and delicious way is to snap off the top and cut the squash in half. Take care, as the squash is quite tough in its uncooked state. Scoop out the seeds cover the cut sides with butter, add about one Tablespoon of brown sugar per squash half and salt and pepper to taste. Cook; covered in a moderate oven until it is fork tender- about 45 minutes. Or you can cut the squash into pieces and cook along side of a roast. They also microwave beautifully. Why not cut into thin pieces, then they can be stir fried.

Happy pumpkin and squash to you. Remember, don’t be afraid to buy early and enjoy longer!