Pumpkin The pumpkin belongs to the cucurbitaceae family, which also includes cucumbers, squash, and melons. The word comes from the Greek word pepôn, meaning "cooked by the sun." The pumpkin is probably native to America, specifically Central America, and was grown extensively by the Native Americans when the first colonists landed. Native Americans made good use of the pumpkin. They baked or boiled it, made soups from it, and they used the dried, ground meal in breads and puddings, much like cornmeal.
Featured Pumpkin Recipes
Served at the Pilgrims' second Thanksgiving in 1623, pumpkin pie is still one of the country's favorite desserts, and an important Thanksgiving feast tradition across the country.
Though canned pumpkin is usually used for pumpkin desserts and soups year-round, fresh cooked pumpkin can be puréed and used in any recipe calling for pumpkin. Smaller pumpkins are best for cooking, yielding sweeter and more tender flesh than the very large pumpkins.
A 5-pound pumpkin will yield about 4 1/2 cups of mashed, cooked pumpkin. One can of pumpkin, 15 to 16 ounces, yields about 2 cups of mashed pumpkin.
On the next page, you'll find instructions for cooking fresh pumpkins, including how to purée and freeze for future use.