How to Select a pumpkin Pumpkins come in various shapes, sizes and colors. They can weigh as much as 100 pounds. Usually the smallest ones are most suitable for consuming. First check the stem of the pumpkin. Squeeze the stem to ensure that it is solid and firmly attached. A soft stem indicates that the pumpkin is not fresh and will not last long. Next examine the entire pumpkin for soft spots and if you find any soft spot, keep looking. The stem gives character to the pumpkin. Hence, it should not be lifted by its stem as it is more likely to break. What about the color…it should be uniform. Patches of green indicate that the pumpkin was not ripe when picked and is not likely to ripen further. The shape of the pumpkin depends upon your personal preference. Select those pumpkins which are free from blemishes, bruises and dents as these might cause the pumpkins to rot quickly. Look closely at the bottom of the pumpkin for molds and pinholes. Molds on the pumpkin indicate that it is already rotting while the pinholes indicate that the insects have started to eat the pumpkin and it is not likely to last long. The pumpkins should be small and heavy for their size as they have tender and more flavorful flesh. Storing: Pumpkins should be kept in a cool, dark, dry and well ventilated place, preferably an attic or spare room at a temperature of 45 to 60 degrees F. Pumpkins can last up to a month and can be refrigerated for up to 3 months. Cooked pumpkin can be stored up to 16 months in frozen.  While commonly viewed as a vegetable, pumpkin is scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds And are in the Cucurbita family which also includes squash, muskmelons and watermelons. It has gained immense popularity in the United States, particularly durning Halloween and Thanksgiving. Its shape varies from oblong to oblate and the skin is thick, smooth, and slightly ribbed. The color of the inside flesh varies from pale to dark green and orange to red. The edible seeds are present at the core of the pumpkin. Pumpkins are winter squashes that are believed to have their origin in North America. A pumpkin generally weighs about 4 to 8 kg while the largest species of pumpkin can weigh up to 34 kg. When cooked, pumpkin has a mild, sweet flavor. An interesting fact about pumpkins is that they are monoecious plants, which means that they have both male and female flowers on the same plant. The female flower can be identified by the small ovary at the bottom of the petals. Beyond its delicious taste, pumpkin is nutritious and linked to many health benefits. Pumpkin is loaded with nutrients that can boost your immune system. It’s also very high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body turns into vitamin A. Make pumpkin purée to use for: Pumpkin pie, cookies, brownies, butter Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin sugared seeds, hot n’ spicy, semi-salted, Bird seeds: Preserve: Can for future use Beverage chillers: Planters: Hollow out and use as decorative planters Skin: Body butter, facial mask, scrubs, My favorite recipe: Black Bean & Pumpkin Burgers Patties: 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (or sweet potato puree) 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp coconut oil 1 tsp chili powder 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 1/4 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp cumin 1/4 tsp coriander 3/4 tsp sea salt 1/4 cup crushed walnuts 1 cup cooked and cooled brown rice 1-15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (or about 2 cups cooked black beans) 2 tbsp flaxmeal 1/4 cup oat flour coconut oil to cook the patties Combine the pumpkin, oil, spices, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add the brown rice, flaxmeal, oat flour, walnuts, and half of the beans and pulse until the mixture is thick and chunky (not smooth).  Add the rest of the beans and pulse a few times just to break them up.  The mixture should be tacky with some texture to it, not smooth.  Divide the mixture into 4 or 5 patties about 1/2 inch thick.  Place the patties in the refrigerator for 1 hour minutes to allow them to firm them up a little bit.  Heat a thin layer of coconut oil in a skillet over medium.  Cook the patties for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side until a golden crust forms.  Wrap and refrigerate (or freeze) leftovers.  Makes 4 or 5 patties. serving suggestions These patties are a wonderful addition to any salad, or on a lightly toasted sprouted grain bun with a bit of, sliced avocado, field greens, and crumbled feta. Crumbled on a quesadilla and topped with salsa, or made into a traditional burger.

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