Pumpkins are the fruit of a squash plant and have a thick orange shell with soft pulp and seeds inside. They are grown on every continent except Antarctica, with certain varietals for eating and special hybrids for carving and decorating during the Halloween and Thanksgiving seasons in the USA and Canada. Pumpkins range from 1 – 1000 pounds (.45 kilograms to 450 kilograms) and contain vitamin A, C, K and E along with antioxidant carotenoids, magnesium, potassium, and iron. The seeds have anti-inflammatory properties and may help protect against prostate cancer. Popular pumpkins recipes include cakes, breads, cookies, and soup. When planning on using a pumpkin for a recipe, choose one between 2-5 pounds. Canned pumpkin puree is found in most grocery stores today, or you can make your own pumpkin puree for a pie by roasting the whole pumpkin. Do not cut the pumpkin open before you roast it. Jab it with a knife two times to vent the steam, put the whole pumpkin on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. It will be done when you can easily stick a knife into the top.
Cut open the pumpkin, and scoop out the seeds and discard the stringy inside. Scoop out the flesh and you are done. It will keep refrigerated for four to five days. You now have pumpkin puree ready for pie--or try making this easy recipe for pumpkin butter, delicious on toast or muffins. You will need 3 cups of the pumpkin puree you just made ( or 1 can of store bought pumpkin puree), ¾ cups of apple juice, 1 teaspoon of ginger spice, 1/8 teaspoon of allspice, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of honey, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices and sugar in a large saucepan, and bring to boil. Reduce heat, stir often, let simmer for 30 minutes or until mixture is thick. Add spices, and lemon juice and a pinch of salt to taste. This will last about one week in an airtight container in your refrigerator.
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