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Pumpkins and squash galore
By Lou Ann Jopp
From eNews, October 14, 2004
Unlike their summer siblings, the winter squash varieties such as acorn or Hubbard, as well as pumpkins, are harvested at a mature stage when their skins have become hard and inedible. Yet their nutrition-rich insides will still call out to you. Here are some tips to help you enjoy this season's bounty:
- Those with the deepest shades of yellow or orange will likely have the highest concentrations of vitamin A. Some types of squash contain enough beta carotene to supply more than 100 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for vitamin A in a 3 1/2-ounce (1 cup cubed) serving.
- A high percentage of the pumpkins this time of the year are only suitable for Jack-o'-lanterns. They are often too large and stringy to eat. If you want to keep a pumpkin for Halloween, store it in a cool, dry place. Avoid bruising it and check it occasionally for signs of decay.
- To keep your winter squash fresh, store them under dry conditions (between 50 and 55 degrees) and check them every few weeks for mold. Discard any that have deteriorated and wipe the healthy ones with a soft cloth dipped lightly in vegetable oil. Winter squash should last from three to six months.
- To cook a pumpkin or squash, wash and cut in half crosswise. Remove the seeds and strings. Place in a pan skin, side up, and bake at 325F for one hour or more, depending on the size, until tender. Scrape the pulp from the skin and put the pulp through a strainer or blender.
- To freeze pumpkins or squash, prepare by cooking as above. Pack into containers, label, date, and freeze.
- To can pumpkins or squash, wash, peel the skin, and remove the seeds. Cut into one-inch cubes and drop into a pot. Add just enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Fill jars with the cubed produce and the cooking liquid, leaving one inch of headspace. Adjust the lids and process in a pressure canner. For the Dial-gauge pressure canner, process at 11 pounds pressure for 55 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts. Weighted-gauge pressure canners should be 15 PSI, and also 55 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.