A wise shopper can select a fresh pumpkin that can serve as both Halloween decoration and then last throughout the fall for fresh pumpkin pies come Thanksgiving.

A wise shopper can select a fresh pumpkin that can serve as both Halloween decoration and then last throughout the fall for fresh pumpkin pies come Thanksgiving.

Select a pumpkin that still has a stem intact. Lost stems leave a depression behind that can promote spoilage. Stem color is not so important as having a dry stem. If a stem is leaking sap, that can indicate the pumpkin was too young for harvest and may spoil sooner.

The best indicator of a mature pumpkin is the rind. A mature rind will be quite tough. A rind that an be pierced with the thumbnail is a sign of a pumpkin too immature for harvest. The rind has to be hard enough to keep moisture from escaping, otherwise the pumpkin will shrivel and not keep as long.

For good quality and a long lasting pumpkin, look for a blemish-free pumpkin with no soft spots.

If you decorated your Halloween pumpkin with paints or markers, then it may be saved well into November to be cooked for fresh Thanksgiving pies. The important point to remember is not to puncture the rind, or it will soon begin to decay.
A carved pumpkin has served it's role for Halloween and it's life is done. The flesh of the pumpkin is not safe for coking and eating once it has been exposed and left to dry.

When selecting a pumpkin for cooking, the best selection is a 'pie-pumpkin'. They are smaller and the flesh is sweeter and smoother texture. However, you can use larger varieties with fairly good results if it has been cared for properly.

To prepare the pumpkin for cooking, cut out the stem and then cut in half with a sharp knife. Remove the seeds which you may want to save for roasting. Scrape away all the stringy mass and rinse. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. When done, the pulp can be scraped away from the rind to be used in your recipes.

Or you can boil the pumpkin. You will need to cut away the rind and cut into chucks. Rinse in cold water. Place chunks into a large pot with just enough water to cover. Boil for about 20 to 30 minutes or just until tender. Drain.
Whichever method you choose, the cooked, cooled pumpkin can be put into a food processor or you can use a potato masher to form a puree.

Pumpkin freezes well in freezer containers or zip closure freezer bags. Label, date and freeze for up to one year. Use this pumpkin puree from your fresh pumpkin in recipes in the same amount in any recipe calling for canned pumpkin.

Pumpkin is low in calories, high in fiber and contains vitamins and minerals. The bright orange color of pumpkin is assurance that it is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene.