Pumping Up Your Pumpkin Repertoire

'Tis the season to eat pumpkin! 

Pumpkin is a seasonal vegetable, and definitely better in autumn and winter. So, if you're looking for something to cook - consider pumpkin as your main ingredient.

The vegetable is rich in vitamin C - giving you all the more reason to add it to your repertoire to fight the flu in the colder months. 

Here is everything you need to know about pumpkin.

Popular Pumpkin Varieties:

  • Butternut: Australia’s favourite variety with dense, dry flesh which is lovely and sweet. Great for pumpkin pie, scones, mashing, pickling, and is a great all rounder.
  • Kent/Japanese: Pretty spotted skin with lush sweet flesh that is a little softer. Fantastic roasted, and can be used for most dishes.
  • Queensland Blue: Large pumpkin with blue/grey skin and and fibrous flesh, best for curries and stews.
  • Heirloom varieties are the best to grow at home or pick up at your local farmers market. These include: Golden Nugget, Dumpling, Acorn, Gem Squash, Delicata, Buttercup, Spaghetti. 

Scroll through delicious pumpkin recipes on LifeStyle FOOD: (Post continues after gallery)

Key Pumpkin Cooking Techniques:

  • How to cut pumpking without cutting yourself! With a Kent or Japanese pumpkin, start by using a large sharp chef's knife and cut in half through the stem. For a butternut, also start by cutting in half. The key here is to get a stable flat base, as most injuries occur when pumpkin is set on your board on an uneven surface rather than a flat cut surface. Once you have a flat surface planted securely on your chopping board, you can really cut any way you like.
  • Roasting: This is our favourite way to cook pumpkin. You get a delicious caramelisation of natural sugars and a depth of flavour that is second to none. Great for pumpkin soups or alongside roasts.
  • Steaming: This is a great way to soften pumpkin flesh without waterlogging it by boiling it in water - which should be banned all together! It's also a great method for making baby food and risotto.
  • Simmering/Braising: Simmering pumpkin in broth or sauce means it doesn't get waterlogged, and any flavour you lose goes straight back into the sauce. Pop pumpkin chunks in soups, stews, or curries.

Best Flavour Friends:

  • Chilli: the sweetness of pumpkin really balances out fiery dishes, especially curries and Mexican food.
  • Spices: cinnamon and nutmeg really bring out the natural sweetness in a pumpkin pie, and ginger is a fantastic addition to pumpkin soup.
  • Herbs: Sage is an absolute classic, but rosemary works very well too. The intensity and fragrance of this pairing carries vegetarian dishes to new levels.
  • Meat: Bacon and pork are great matches, the sweet-saltiness works just as well as the traditional pork-apple pairing.
  • Cheese: goat’s cheese is a classic in salads and quiches. Also try picante gorgonzola, which is sharper and more acidic than its sweeter counterpart, and works very well with the sweet caramel flavours of roast pumpkin.
  • Seafood: The buttery flavour works very well with prawns, lobsters and scallops.
  • Almonds: a classic pairing in the northern Italian Tortelli di Zucca.

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