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Pumpkins - Making Yours Last All Season Long

The following tips will help insure your pumpkin stays looking fresh through the season.

Nashville, Ark. – Since fall has arrived, pumpkins can be seen almost everywhere you look. While the most popular use of pumpkins is for decorations, such as carving jack-o-lanterns, pumpkins are also wonderful for cooking. They are a nutritional powerhouse.

            Pumpkins are very versatile. Not only do they provide us with great fall decorations, they also offer us an alternative to the usual winter vegetables. They are loaded with beta-carotene, an important antioxidant. Beta carotene performs many important functions in the body providing protection against heart disease. It may also reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Pumpkins are a great source of vitamin A.

            When choosing pumpkins, those for eating are very different from those used in decorating. If you plan to eat the pumpkin, choose the small pie pumpkins. They provide the most flavor. Pumpkins that are smaller in size are tenderer and less stringy than the larger varieties. Also, look for a pumpkin with 1 to 2 inches of stem left. If the stem is cut too low, the pumpkin will decay quickly or may even be decaying at the time of purchase. Avoid those with blemishes or soft spots.

            Follow the same guidelines for choosing pumpkins that will be used in decorating. The rind should not be easily penetrated by a thumbnail. Again, look for pumpkins that have the stem left on. Pumpkins for carving or decorating can be the larger varieties. Smaller pumpkins will last longer.

            The pumpkin has long been a favorite of children, featured in stores (Cinderella) and in rhymes (Peter Pumpkin Eater’s wife). Jack-o-lanterns are a centerpiece of Halloween decorating.

            Weather changes rapidly in Southwest Arkansas. However, if pumpkins are stored at 55 degrees in a dry place, they should last two to three months.

            For more information on using pumpkin or the nutritional information of pumpkin, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. Ask for the handout on pumpkins featuring several pumpkin recipes including the one below.

Pumpkin Praline Cake

1 box yellow cake mix

1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin or 2 cups fresh cooked pumpkin, mashed

½ cup oil

¾ cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup water

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon allspice

3 eggs

1 cup chopped pecans

1 stick margarine, softened

½ cup brown sugar

            Combine first eight ingredients in order given. Add one egg at a time, beating a full minute between each addition. Pour ¼ of the batter into a greased tube pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or greased with flour and shortening.

            In a small bowl, combine nuts, margarine and sugar; mix well. Place on top of batter in pan; carefully pour remaining batter over top of nut mixture. Bake 1 hour at 350ºF or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Remove from pan and place on cooling rack to cool.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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