Proper Pumpkin Preparation


Pumpkin season has officially begun, and it is time to break out those recipes and get to cooking. We have compiled five of our favorite pumpkin dishes with a few easy safety tips. There are a few things that may have not made it through the grape vine (or the pumpkin vine), so before you get started follow these simple rules for a safe and delicious pumpkin feast.


Pumpkin Seeds


First of all, pumpkin seeds are very good for you and there are a few ways you can eat them. Most people roast the pumpkin seeds before eating them, but they can also be eaten raw. Roasting the seeds helps to release the moisture, and some would say it also brings out more flavor. Since the seeds are within the pumpkin they really aren’t exposed to the bacteria that the skin may have been exposed to – so there is no reason you couldn’t eat them raw. Another question many people have is whether or not it is safe to eat seeds from a white pumpkin: it is absolutely safe to eat these seeds, just as it is for any other pumpkin.




Pumpkin Pie


Whether you prepare your pie fresh or with canned pumpkin pie filling it is important to remember that a pumpkin pie is made with eggs and milk. It needs to be refrigerated after being fully cooked. If you are setting the pie out at a buffet-style party, it is fine to leave it out for a certain amount of time. Consider only putting it out after you see that everyone has eaten and is ready for dessert, then put it back in the fridge within 90 minutes. Also, some people will open a can of pumpkin pie filling and place the can in the refrigerator for other uses: this is a huge safety risk. If you ever need to refrigerate any leftover contents of canned food, put the food in proper storage. Aluminum cans break down in the cold temperature and the metal may transfer to your food.




Pumpkin Soup


Since most recipes for pumpkin soup call for either half and half or milk, it is important to store leftovers properly. After cooking, do not put in the refrigerator until it has cooled down, but do not leave it out for more than two hours. It is important to let hot foods like this cool down before placing them in the refrigerator, otherwise the temperature in the fridge lowers due to the hot food, possibly allowing bacteria to grow.




Pumpkin Butter


The important thing here mostly pertains to homemade pumpkin butter and storing it. You should not can pumpkin butter or any other pumpkin puree. The only way this can be stored is in cubed form. According to the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning, published in 1989:


“Home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash…”




Pumpkin Bread


This delightful treat is perfectly safe to can, or jar. The concept still surprises a few but it is a great way to keep the bread fresh. The important thing to remember here is to check your jar’s seal, especially if you don’t freeze it. You should keep the jar in a dry, cool place like any other canned food.




Many of these tips are good for overall food safety, but with the holidays coming up we can get frazzled and easily forget. These tips are a good reminder and a great way to keep you and your family free from foodborne illness.