October is here and we all know that means one thing…pumpkins! Not only are pumpkins in season for making jack-o-lanterns and decorating with, but also for eating! While this winter squash is native to North America, pumpkins are grown on every continent, except Antarctica. Over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced every year in the United States; the largest producers are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Technically speaking, pumpkin is a fruit, however, it is more nutritionally similar to a vegetable. The popular autumn fruit is low in calories and dense in vitamins A and C as well as minerals potassium, copper, manganese and antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein.

The pumpkin is part of the vining Cucurbitaceae family, which includes melons, squash, cucumbers, and gourds. A ripe pumpkin will lose its shiny coat and have a hardened rind. A tip to know when a pumpkin is ripe is to give it a thump, if it sounds hollow, your pumpkin is ripe!

Pumpkins can be consumed in a raw form, however, it is more common to cook your pumpkin before consumption. Pumpkins can be roasted or boiled. Pumpkin puree can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for one year. Not just the pulp can be consumed, but the seeds are also edible. Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron, zinc, and magnesium.

Pumpkins should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Always remember to wash the rind thoroughly before cutting to prevent surface bacteria from contaminating the inside while cutting.

Pumpkin butter:

  • 30 ounces pumpkin puree
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch sea salt

Directions

1. Add all ingredients into a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to combine.

2. Once it begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer.

3. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

5. Once cooled completely, transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for 1 month.

This Athens Farmers Market Café is a collaboration between the Athens Farmers Market; OU COMCorps, a local Americorps program; and Athens County Children Services. Athens Farmers Market hours are Wednesdays (April-December) and Saturdays (year round), 9 a.m. to noon at the Market on State St. Parking Lot, 1000 E. State St., Athens. To help increase fresh food consumption the Athens Farmers Market vendors proudly participate in the following social service programs: The USDA Food Assistance Program, SNAP/EBT (food stamps), WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Participants can stop by the table at the Southeast corner of the market to get SNAP tokens to spend at the market.


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