How to pick the perfect pumpkin?

02 Jul 2018

It’s pumpkin season meaning now’s the ideal time to enjoy these sweet orbs of golden goodness. But do you know your butternut from your Queensland blue? Read on for our guide to winter’s favourite veggie.

It’s hard to argue the pumpkin’s versatility. A soup staple, it also elevates soufles, adds sweetness to salads and can even be transformed into family favourite deserts like scones and pies.

Despite its undeniable sweetness, pumpkin is also extremely good for us. It’s low in carbohydrates, has no saturated fats or cholesterol, and is one of the densest sources of vitamin A – vital for maintain healthy skin, great for our eyesight and said to help prevent lung cancer among others.

Better still, its long shelf-life and affordability makes pumpkin ideal for frugal mid-week meals, but with so many varieties to choose from, which creates the creamiest pumpkin soup? Or a Sunday roast side-dish that keeps its texture and shape after being baked?

Read on to find out

 

Butternut: A true all-rounder, the butternut pumpkin can be baked, roasted or stewed. It has thin, light orange skin and a long, narrow oblong shape making it one of the easiest to cut. Its flesh is dense, sweet and dry.

 

Dumpling: A smallish pumpkin, dumplings are best stuffed and then baked as single-serve meals. They have pale yellow skin with deep green ribbing and a sweet, light orange flesh.

 

Golden Nugget: This is one of the smallest varieties to be grown in Australia. Rarely reaching more than 15cm in diameter, and with thin vibrant orange skin, it’s perfect for stuffing, using as bowls for soup, or decorating at Halloween. It’s flesh is sweet and light yellow.

 

Kent: Another small variety, the Kent ranges in size from one to three kilograms. Its skin is mottled in shades of green and yellow while its flesh is super sweet, slightly nutty and golden yellow making it perfect for salads, soups and quiches. This potato is also known as the Jap, which is short for Japanese pumpkin or kabocha, as it is known in Japan.

 

Jarrahdale: Most closely resembling the Queensland blue, this is another large pumpkin variety with grey skin that’s semi ribbed and cuts easily. Its flesh is sweet, bright orange and moister than most, so it’s not ideal for baking or stewing, however it’s ideal for boiling and mashing.

 

Queensland blue: A large variety (they weigh in at between five and even kilos on average), the Queensland Blue has a smooth, deeply ribbed blue/grey skin. Its flesh is sweet, dry, fibrous and golden, making it perfect for soups, curries, casseroles and baking. Baby Queensland blues are perfect for hollowing out then stuffing, or using as bowls for soup.

 

Picking your pumpkin:

Regardless of the variety, there are a few rules of thumb when it comes to selecting your pumpkin.

  • Small imperfections on the skin are fine, as long as there’s no deep damage to the surface.
  • The pumpkin should be firm and heavy, and with a tough outer skin. The stalk must be firmly attached.
  • Pumpkins should be stored at room temperature. When purchasing a pumpkin make sure it’s dry and free from surface moisture.
  • Store pumpkins away from apples and pears. These fruits release ethylene gas, which shortens the shelf life of pumpkin.
  • Resist cutting your pumpkin until you’re ready to use it. Fresh pumpkin will last between two and three months in a cool, dark well-ventilated space, but once diced, it must be covered and stored in the fridge for up to seven days.

 

At The Black Truffle, pumpkin is easily one of our favourite winter veggies – try our famous rocket, roasted pumpkin and candied walnut salad; sweet, hearty caramelised Kent pumpkin soup (vegan); turmeric spiced Israeli cous cous and Kent pumpkin salad; creamy pumpkin gnocchi and family-sized pumpkin and feta tart.