Fresh pumpkins remind us of Halloween and carving jack-o'-lanterns. When it comes to eating this mild, slightly sweet, orange gourd, we usually toast the scooped-out seeds, or pepitas. Canned purée is the familiar edible form, but fresh pumpkin can be baked, boiled, sautéed, microwaved or made into a flavourful purée. Whether canned or homemade, versatile pumpkin purée can be added to pies, cakes, cookies, muffins and pancakes. The best for cooking are smaller "pie" types, often called sugar, cheese or milk pumpkins. These have sweeter, firmer flesh than large pumpkins. Excellent source of vitamin A.


  • Pumpkins are available September to November.


  • Select firm pumpkins that feel heavy for their size. The rind should be free of blemishes and soft spots.


  • Store fresh pumpkins in a cool, dry dark place for 1 to 2 months. Do not refrigerate or cover with plastic wrap.
  • Wrap cut pieces tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze cooked pumpkin in sealable freezer-weight plastic bags or in tightly sealed plastic containers for up to 6 months.


  • Just before using, rinse under cold water. Cut into halves or quarters with a large knife. Scoop out seeds and stringy fibres. Discard fibres and save seeds for toasting, if desired.
  • Remove rind and cut into cubes or slices for boiling, baking, microwaving or steaming. Or, leave rind and halves intact, bake or microwave and then remove rind after cooking.
  • Purée cooked pumpkin in batches in a food processor or mash by hand. Three pounds fresh pumpkin yields about 3 cups mashed cooked pumpkin.
    (Note: Homemade pumpkin purée may have a higher moisture content than canned pumpkin. For best results, do not substitute homemade purée in recipes calling for canned pumpkin purée.)
  • Never cook or eat a carved Halloween pumpkin as the cut surfaces breed bacteria.


  • Serve mashed or cubed cooked pumpkin as a side dish seasoned with ground cinnamon, butter and brown sugar.
  • Add fresh pumpkin chunks to your favourite vegetable or beef stew.
  • Perk up ordinary mashed potatoes by mashing in some cooked pumpkin and Sour Cream.
  • Turn puréed pumpkin into a savoury soup by thinning it with chicken broth and seasoning with sage, curry powder or ground cinnamon.
  • Get creative with toasted pumpkin seeds. Season them with cinnamon-sugar for a sweet touch or use your favourite herb blend for savoury seeds.