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Pumpkins are an important crop in Ohio, and on Halloween.

Pumpkin time in Ohio

It’s time for pumpkins! For the most part I am like the average American and get my pumpkin canned at the grocery store, though I have been known to make some fresh pumpkin puree. It tastes great and is easy to do.

Last fall, I invited a little friend over and we made two fresh pumpkin pies. I wanted to show her how to take a pumpkin from the field and turn it into something that tasted great. Cooking a fresh pumpkin is really simple and has really great flavor. Start out with a sugar pumpkin. Cut it in half, scoop all the seeds out and cut in half again. Put on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Peel off the skin and process it in a blender or food processor. If it’s on the watery side, drain over some cheesecloth.

Ohio ranks third in pumpkin production. It is hard to believe the Buckeye State harvested over 1 million pumpkins off of 6,100 acres generating over 15 million dollars in 2013. An interesting pumpkin fact is that 90% of the pumpkins grown in the U.S., are grown within a 90 mile radius of Peoria, Illinois. Why Peoria, Illinois? In Morton, Illinois, near Peoria, is the Libby plant, which processes 85% of the world’s pumpkin. A few years ago, there was a huge pumpkin shortage and now that seems understandable how such a large market share was wiped out. A processing pumpkin is of comparable size and shape to a watermelon and a lighter colored shell per Iowa State University.

Today, pumpkins are big business, and not just for eating. For many years, I have moonlighted at Leeds Pumpkin Farm in Ostrander helping with school field trips. Let me tell you, they know pumpkins and it’s all about fun. There are so many fun things there, all based around pumpkins and farm fun. Every year, I have to get my annual slide down the giant slide or take a few jumps on the pumpkin jump. Of course, before you leave, you can stock up on all your decorating needs with a plethora of pumpkins, squash, gourds and other fall décor. Sugar pumpkins and all different kinds of squash are also available.

Pumpkins have been labeled as a super food. Only a half cup serving of processed pumpkin will provide you with four grams of fiber. It is one of the richest sources of carotenoids, a great phytonutrient that has been found to help reduce risks of many cancers. All of this is packed into only 45 calories, which is a great reason to stock your shelves with pumpkin over the coming winter months.

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are small, flat, green edible seeds. These are found hulled in the local produce aisle and are awesome on top of salads as well as a healthy snack. These differ from the roasted seeds you make from your leftover jack-o-lantern guts, which also make a tasty treat. Stuffed squash blossoms are also making debuts on higher scale restaurant menus. Try some of these pumpkin yummies to fill your plate as well as your porch with pumpkin goodies this Halloween season!


Vanilla Pumpkin Pudding

5.3 oz. nonfat, sugar free vanilla greek yogurt

1/3 c canned pumpkin, no sugar added

Dash of cinnamon

Mix together and enjoy! Nutrition: 1 serving = 107 calories; .3g fat; 15g carb; 13g pro; 3.5g fiber


Curried Pumpkin Soup adapted from Taste of Home


2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder

3 cups low sodium chicken broth

15 oz. solid-pack pumpkin or 2 cups

12 oz. evaporated skim milk

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg



In a large saucepan, saute garlic and onion in butter until tender. Stir in the flour and curry powder until blended. Gradually add the broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add the pumpkin, milk, honey, salt, pepper and nutmeg; heat through. Garnish with chives if desired. Yield: 7 servings.


Roasted Butternut Squash www.allrecipes.com

1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400° Toss butternut squash with olive oil and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste. I like a southwestern zip to mine. Arrange coated squash on a baking sheet. Roast in a preheated oven until squash is tender and lightly browned 25 to 30 minutes. Alternatives: You can use sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other squash in place of butternut


Pumpkin Roll adapted from www.tasteofhome.com


3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup canned pumpkin

3/4 cup biscuit/baking mix

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Confectioners’ sugar

6 oz. lite cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. butter, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Line a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with waxed paper.

Grease the paper; set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs for 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat for 2 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored. Stir in pumpkin. Combine dry ingredients; fold into pumpkin mixture. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Sprinkle with walnuts.


Bake at 350° for 13-15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 5 minutes. Invert onto a kitchen towel dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Gently peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool completely on a wire rack.


For filling, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Unroll cake. Spread filling over cake to within 1 in. of edges. Gently roll up; place seam side down on a platter. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 10 servings.


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