There are three main varieties of pumpkin widely available in Australia. Queensland Blue pumpkins are large with thick, heavily ribbed bluish-grey skin and bright orange flesh. Jap or Kent pumpkins have smooth, mottled green-grey skin and yellow, nutty-tasting flesh. Butternut pumpkins are elongated and pearshaped, with beige-coloured skin and sweet, pale orange flesh.
Choose pumpkins that are heavy for their size with firm, thick skin that is free from soft spots or bruises. If buying pre-cut pumpkin, look for moist, vibrantly-coloured flesh and a sweet aroma.
Whole pumpkins can be stored in a cool, dark, dry place for up to two months. Tightly wrap cut or peeled pumpkin in plastic and store in the fridge for 3–7 days.
Cooked pumpkin can be eaten in both sweet and savoury dishes, or as a side dish on its own. Add it to salads, dips and lasagne, or purée cooked pumpkin and stir it into scone, cookie or cake recipes. Try tossing cubed pumpkin into a stir-fry, curry, stew or meat pie recipe.
4 quick ways with pumpkin
Transform roast leftovers into a yummy frittata. Whisk together 5 eggs and 3 egg whites until combined, then toss with 2 cups roast pumpkin, 1 cup baby spinach and 2 chopped tomatoes. Pour mixture into a baking dish, dot with 100g goat’s cheese and bake at 200°C for 20–25 minutes, or until firm. Serve with a large green salad.
Whip up this hearty salad for dinner. Toss 500g cubed pumpkin with 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary. Spray with oil and roast at 180°C for 20 minutes, until tender. Once cooled, mix with a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, 100g each reduced-fat feta and diced sun-dried tomatoes and 8 cups lettuce. Splash with olive oil and lemon juice.
Makeover your mash! Steam peeled and chopped pumpkin and sweet potatoes until soft. Drain and mash. Stir through 2–3 tablespoons low-fat sour cream or Greek yoghurt, chopped chives and cracked black pepper.
Add some kick to pumpkin soup. Chop 1kg butternut pumpkin into 2cm dice. In a large saucepan, combine pumpkin and 2 tablespoons red curry paste. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add 1 cup light coconut milk, 2 teaspoons grated ginger and 1 1/2 cups water. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Purée soup with a stick blender to a smooth consistency and stir through 1/4 cup chopped coriander before serving.
Did you know? Pumpkin contains the antioxidant zea-xanthin, which helps prevent age-related macular degeneration by acting as a UV filter in the eyes.