Did you know that most canned “pumpkin” is actually squash? Pumpkin and squash are in the same plant family, and their taste and nutritional value are almost the same. They are good sources of fiber to help our digestion. Pumpkin and squash are rich in pigments (called carotenoids) that our body converts to vitamin A. We need vitamin A for healthy eyes and skin.
Try a variety of winter squash, including butternut, buttercup, acorn, hubbard or spaghetti squash, with these tips.
Store it correctly.
- Store pumpkin and squash in a cool, dry place. Do not wash it before storing because that can shorten its storage life. When stored correctly, it can last several months.
- To bake a pumpkin or squash, rinse the squash with running water and scrub with a vegetable brush if needed. Poke holes in the skin with a knife.
- Place it in a baking pan and bake at 350 F until tender. Bake small squash/pumpkin for about 45 minutes or large squash for about 90 minutes.
- Remove the skin and seeds, then mash, season as desired and serve.
- Rinse the squash and cut it into chunks. Place in a microwave-safe container and cook on high for about seven minutes until tender. Note: Raw squash and pumpkin are very hard; be cautious when cutting it to avoid injuring yourself.
- Cooked, mashed squash can be preserved by freezing but not by home-canning. Chunks of cooked squash can be preserved by pressure canning. Visit ag.ndsu.edu/food and follow the directions for safe food preservation.
Try some new recipes.
- Have you ever made pumpkin pancakes or pumpkin fruit leather? How about pumpkin or squash soup or pumpkin bread pudding? See ag.ndsu.edu/food for recipes to try. Click on “Recipes,” then “Breads” or “Snacks, Appetizers and Beverages.”
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a professor and food and nutrition specialist with the NDSU Extension Service in Fargo.