How much pumpkin do you eat in a year? Do you just eat a slice or two of pumpkin pie around the holidays? Pumpkin pie spice lattes from Starbucks don’t count either because I’m pretty sure there isn’t much real pumpkin in those lattes. Thanks to the super pollinating power of our bees, I had a bumper crop of sugar pie pumpkins last year. Many people just think of pumpkins as fall decorations, but pumpkins are food! If I grow the food, I don’t want to waist the food. My challenge was to figure out how to use 40 pumpkins, and I am happy to report that I am on pace to eat about 40 pumpkins in approximately one year. I am inviting you to jump down the pumpkin rabbit hole with me.
Pumpkins can do so much more than fill a pie or sit next to a straw bale in your fall décor scene. Here is why you should be eating more pumpkin. Pumpkins are loaded with vitamins and fiber. Every part of the pumpkin is edible including the seeds. Pumpkins can be used in sweet and savory dishes, which is a culinary feat that most fruits and vegetables are incapable of pulling off. They can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration. The pumpkins I harvested in September kept in my basement until the following February. They are easy to grow. If you don’t have a garden, you can buy sugar pie pumpkins at most groceries. They are plentiful and inexpensive in autumn.
Each pumpkin yields between 2 and 3 cups of pumpkin puree, which is the starting point for most recipes. I estimate that I am eating about 100 cups of pumpkin puree this year, which is equivalent to ~57 cans of Libby’s pumpkin. (Click here if you want to see a fascinating 2 minute video about how Libby’s canned pumpkin is produced. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwziya1h70s).
You may think I am using my 40 pumpkins to make pies, but I am not. As if there are not enough controversies to debate in the world, bakers are deeply divided on whether canned of fresh pumpkin puree is best for the traditional pumpkin pie. Store bought canned pumpkin has a more consistent moisture content, which leads to more consistent pies. Libby’s, the largest producer of canned pumpkin, has a proprietary pumpkin variety that is different from what the average person can grow at home. I make the pumpkin pies every year for our family’s Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving 2020 was already stressful due to the covid-19 pandemic. A watery pumpkin pie could push everyone to the brink of despair, and I wasn’t going to be responsible for that. I used canned pumpkin to make the pumpkin pies.
I’m eating my 40 pumpkins in one of three ways:
- Homemade veggie burgers
- Pumpkin bread
- Pumpkin butter
I love veggie burgers and will order them over beef burgers at most restaurants. Honestly I don’t really like meat all that much. Most of my protein comes from eggs, cheese, beans, and peanut butter. I created my own veggie burger recipe that uses pumpkin puree and black beans as a base. My husband, who is a self-proclaimed meat-atarian, even likes these veggie burgers. I eat a homemade veggie burger almost every day for lunch along with a slice of cheese and some homemade pickles.
I found a vegetarian pumpkin bread recipe that my husband loves. Unfortunately he may not love it now that he has read my blog and knows the word “vegetarian” is associated with it. We eat a few loaves of pumpkin bread every month.
One of my favorite ways to consume pumpkin is by making pumpkin butter. I make it in large batches and freeze it in jars. Pumpkin butter can be used just like jam, and now I eat pumpkin butter and peanut butter sandwiches instead of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The beauty of pumpkin butter is that it gets its flavor from spices like cloves and nutmeg instead of sugar. Traditional jam recipes have a 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar. Pumpkin butter has a 4:1 ratio of pumpkin puree to sugar, so it is much healthier.
I also tried making dog treats with my pumpkin puree, but the results were mixed. Carmen the rescue dog loves them. Forte our spoiled German shepherd just looked at me as if to say, “Did you not have time to go to the store to get my jerky treats? Why are you giving me this?” Sometimes he would just spit his treat on the floor for Carmen to eat. Forte is so high maintenance he makes me crazy sometimes. I keep the treats in the freezer now and just give them to Carmen when the two of us are alone. (Side Note: I love Forte, but take my advice. Don’t get a German shepherd dog unless you are ready to deal with all of their peculiar behaviors. It took 5 years before we transformed Forte into a really good pet. Read more about that here.)
If you have a garden, plant some pumpkins. If you don’t have a garden, buy some pumpkins this fall and cook them. These nutritious beauties are so much more than fall decorations. They are the portal to an entire culinary gateway that you have probably been missing. I’ll ask again. How much pumpkin did you eat this year? If your answer is less than one, you don’t know what you have been missing.