Baking with pumpkins
By: Ariel Garsow
Halloween is just around the corner. Although celebrating will look different this year, I am still looking forward to baking my favorite pumpkin treats.
Here are a few tricks so that your treats will be delicious and safe for your family:
Choosing a pumpkin
There are multiple different varieties of pumpkin. Although the hybrid variety Jack-O-Lantern is great for carving, they are not ideal for baking. There are other varieties, typically labeled pie or sugar pumpkins in stores, that will are easier to bake with due to having less stringy pulp. When choosing a pumpkin, avoid those that have a damaged rind with soft spots or mold. This is important for food safety because soft spots and openings in the rind could allow for a way for bacteria from the environment to enter into the pumpkin.
Baking with pumpkin
When baking with pumpkins, start with a new pumpkin. Do not use pumpkins that have been carved previously and have been unrefrigerated. There are many risks associated with using pulp from a pumpkin that was carved previously and has been sitting outside on the porch for days. For example, the pumpkin pulp could have become contaminated with bacteria that are found in the environment such as Listeria monocytogenes or other pathogens.
Prior to starting your recipe, rinse the dirt off of the outside of the pumpkin with water. Make sure you cut the pumpkin with a clean knife. These actions avoid contaminating the inside of the pumpkin with bacteria that could have been on the knife or on the surface of the pumpkin.
After pumpkins are cut into, it is important to use the seeds or pulp promptly (within 1-2 hours).
Cut around the stem of the pumpkin. Remove the pumpkin stem. Scoop out the stringy pulp and seeds. Cut the pumpkin in half.
There are two primary ways a pumpkin could be prepared to be cooked:
1. To make cubed pumpkin: peel the pumpkin and cut it into cubes
2. To make pumpkin puree: pierce the rind of the pumpkin
Here are a few links to recipes that use baked pumpkin or pumpkin seeds:
Pumpkin risotto (for reference: 160°C = 320°F)
Graduate Research Associate
CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology