Pumpkins can be difficult to prepare for cooking. They’re tough and bulky and the thought of reaching inside and grabbing at the seeds and pulp can turn your stomach. So over the years I have developed my own way of preparing them that is quick, easy, and uses as much of the vegetable as possible, there really is very little waste.
But first, a few tips:
1. As with preparing any fruit or veg, make sure you have a very sharp knife, and use it with confidence. You want it to sink into the flesh when you put a bit of pressure on it, not have the knife slide about on top, because it will inevitably find your fingers! I speak from experience.
2. There is no need to peel squashes or pumpkins! I know, what a revelation! Just think about what you could do with all those hours you can save instead of hacking away at pumpkin skin with a peeler that really isn’t up to the job or a knife that takes half the flesh out with it. The skin may feel tough and inedible when the pumpkin is raw, but as it cooks it softens and will just fall apart in your mouth. If you are using pumpkin in a curry or stew, the skin will also stop the pumpkin from breaking down completely into mush and will help with the overall look of the dish. There are also a lot of vitamins and minerals in vegetable skins, so save yourself some time and effort, reduce your food waste and give your body a bit of a boost.
How to Prepare Your Pumpkins
The first thing I do is give the whole pumpkin a good scrub under a cold tap, then I cut it in half, vertically, so the stalk and root are on one side of the slice.
Then I take a strong table spoon and scoop out all the seeds and pulp. Because you’ve opened up the area, it’s really easy to run the spoon around the edges of the flesh and scoop it out.
Next, cut out the root and stalk. I angle the pumpkin so that the root is flat on the chopping board and I cut down, onto the board with the tip of my knife, rather than sawing at it in mid air. Then turn it round and do the same with the stalk.
Don’t waste the flesh on the inside of the stalk and root, chop it off and use it.
Now you are left with two clean pumpkin halves. Cut them into slices, however thick you like.
Then into chunks and either use straight away or place in a freezer bag and freeze for later use.
There you go! The whole process will take no longer than 10 mins once you’ve done it a few times and you will have much more delicious pumpkin than ever before. Now what to do with it? Here are a few recipes to get you started:
The squash in these recipes can easily be substituted for pumpkin: