Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Good Things Come in Small Packages

 

It’ must be true that small things do come in small packages.

And nutritionally, this is true about pumpkin seeds.

Having been used once to expel tapeworms and other intestinal parasites and then being an “official” remedy for parasites from 1863 until 1936. pumpkin seeds are a phenomenal health food and nutritional powerhouse that is delivered to your body in a very small package.

 

Calories...One-fourth of a cup of dried and shelled pumpkin seeds contains 180 calories.

 

Sugar…One fourth of a cup of dried and shelled pumpkin seeds contains 1.29 grams sugar.

 

Carbohydrates...One-fourth of a cup of dried and shelled pumpkin seeds contains 3.45 grams, which is 2%DV, of carbohydrates.

 

Fat…One-fourth of a cup of dried and shelled pumpkin seeds contains a total of  15.82 grams of fat.

 

Fiber…One-fourth of a cup of dried and shelled pumpkin seeds contains 6.5 grams fiber—including 1.94 grams dietary fiber, .27 grams soluble fiiber, and 1.66 grams insoluble fiber.

 

Protein…One-fourth of a cup of dried and shelled pumpkin seeds contains 20% DV protein, which is a whole lot for so little amount of calories.

Protein is important for helping build muscle and helping us feel full so that we won’t be so tempted to go out and binge on less healthy foods that are high in fat, sugar, salt, and calories.

 

Vitamins

One-fourth of a cup of dried and shelled pumpkin seeds

  • Vitamin B1…0.07 mg…6% DV
  • Vitamin B2…0.15 mg…13%
  • Vitamin B3…4.43 mg…30%
  • Vitamin B5…11%…0.57 mg…11%
  • Vitamin B6…8%…0.1 mg…8%
  • Vitamin B9….57 μg…14%
  • Vitamin C…6.5 mg…8%
  • Vitamin E…0.56 mg…4%

 

 

 

Minerals

Iron…One-fourth of a cup of dried and shelled pumpkin seeds provides 2.84 mg, which is 16% DV, of iron.

 

Zinc…One-fourth of a cup of dried and shelled pumpkin seeds provides 2.84 mg, which is 23% DV, of zinc.

Pumpkin seeds have always been recommended for those with zinc deficiency, In fact, many Americans do not get enough zinc in their daily diets because of  mineral-depleted soils, drug effects, plant-based diets, and other diets high in grain.

Zinc is important for…

  • prostate health
  • immunity
  • cell growth and division
  • sleep
  • mood
  • your senses of taste and smell
  • eye and skin health
  • insulin regulation
  • chronic fatigue
  • depression
  • acne
  • school performance in children

 

 

Minerals…

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of many other minerals also—such as phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and copper.

One-fourth of a cup of dried and shelled pumpkin seeds

  • Manganese…1.47 mg…64% DV
  • Phosphorus…397.64 mg…57%
  • Copper…0.43 mg…48%
  • Magnesium…190.92 mg…45%

Magnesium is important for many things, such as…

  • maintaining high energy levels, proper cell function, proper heart function
  • assisting with bone and tooth formation
  • helping the circulatory system
  • helping the digestive system
  • controlling blood pressure
  • preventing sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke

 

Pumpkin seeds offer many health benefits, including…

1.Pumpkin Seeds and Antioxidants…Pumpkin seeds contain a diverse variety of antioxidants that makes them unique in their ability yo offer antioxidant-related properties that are not widely found in food.

Pumpkin Seeds and Cancer…Pumpkin seeds contain many antioxidants ;and may lower your risk of getting cancer—such as breast  cancer and prostate cancer.

Pumpkin Seeds and Diabetes…Pumpkin seeds can help prevent and treat diabetes. Pumpkin seeds have been shown to help regulate insulin levels and prevent diabetes-related kidney problems.

Pumpkin Seeds and Prostate Health…Pumpkin seeds have been shown to be beneficial for maintaining prostate health.because of their high zinc content.

Pumpkin Seeds and Sleep…Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of  tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into serotonin, and then melatonin. Eating pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed will help you get the melatonin and serotonin production that are so important in getting a good night’s sleep.

Pumpkin Seeds and Your Heart…Pumpkin seeds offer high levels of  healthy fats, antioxidants and fiber. These are all important for maintaining the health of your heart.

Pumpkin Seeds and Your Liver…Pumpkin seeds offer high levels of  healthy fats, antioxidants and fiber. These are not only important for maintaining the health of your heart, but also for maintaining the health of your heart and liver.

Pumpkin Seeds as Anti-Fungal/Antibacterial…Pumpkin seeds have been used for centuries to fight off bacteria and viruses.

Pumpkin Seeds as an Anti-Inflammatory…Pumpkin seeds serve as an anti-inflammatory and diuretic. This is especially important in treating arthritis and relieving bladder and prostate discomfort.

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pumpkin Seeds…The What

Pepitas actually differ from regular pumpkin seeds in that they have tender, greenish, soft shells unlike regular pumpkin seeds.

“Pepita” is the Spanish word for pumpkin seeds, but true “pepitas” are very different from what comes out of your traditional jack-o-lanterns.

The word “pepita” in Spanish actually means “little seed of squash”,

These edible seeds of pumpkins and certain other cultivars of squash are typically rather flat and asymmetrically oval and flat,, light green in color, and have a white outer hull, or no hull at all.

In fact, true “pepitas” only come from certain types of pumpkins—such as thin-skinned Styrian or oilseed pumpkins—which have shell-free seeds.

Pumpkins, and their seeds, have been traced at least as far back as the Aztec cultures of 1300-1500 AD. From their .having once been a celebrated food among many Native American tribes, who treasured them both for their dietary and medicinal properties, to now being a gourmet ingredient in many key restaurants.

Roasted pumpkins seeds are so delicious and nutritiou, that they should be enjoyed throughout the year, not only during the Halloween season.

In fact, today pepitas are a trendy ingredient, found on just about every hgh-dollar restaurant in America.

The countries that produce the most pumpkins, and so obviously the most pumpkin seeds, are China…and then followed by  India, Russia, the Ukraine, Mexico, and the United States.

In the United States, Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins,…followed by California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York.

Today pumpkins are commercially grown in pretty much every state. In fact, over one thousand acres of American farmland are planted with pumpkins.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Purely Pure Pumpkin Puree

Since this year I have tried to stay away from processed and prepackaged foods, I decided that it would be fun to take advantage of the millions and billions of pumpkins that are available this time of year.

I had read that there was something different about the texture and flavor of pumpkin pies and other baked goods made from pureew.

At first I thought that pumpkins are a pain in the butt, and the only people who would ever take the time to make their own pumpkin puree would be those over-achievers who pretend that they are Martha Stewart and are lost in the dark ages.

But then I remembered my mom always telling me that the secret to making awesome food is to have awesome ingredients, and there is no way that I would ever eat the pumpkin puree that you can buy in a can.

Making pumpkin puree while pumpkins are available on just about every street corner makes total sense and allows you to enjoy better, especially when you take the time to make enough pumpkin puree to stock your freezer. All year long you will have a much better pumpkin ingredient available as you are baking such things are pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin dip, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin butter, and so forth.

1,  Choose your pumpkins…You can roast as many small pumpkins at a time as you want. Tyically each pound of uncooked pumpkin will yield one pound of mashed and cooked pumpkin.

Make sure that the pumpkins that you use are the small “sugar” or “pie” pumpkins that are “bred” specifically for baking and cooking…not the larger pumpkins grown specifically for carving jack-o-lanterns.

These larger pumpkins are not the right texture and do not taste nearly as good.

 

 

2.  Prepare to cook it…

  • Slice a small piece of skin off one side of the pumpkin so when laid on its side, the pumpkin will lay flat without rolling.
  • Remove the stem,
  • Slice the pumpkin in half.
  • Scoop out the seeds and pulp from the center with a large metal spoon, ice cream scoop, or melon baller. Place all the seeds into a bowl for roasting later.
  • Repeat until all the pumpkin pieces are largely free of seeds and pulp.
  • Rinse the pumpkin under cool water to rid the skin of any residual dirt. Dry well with a clean towel.
  • Place pumpkin halves, cut side down, in a roasting pan,
  • Add 1 cup of water to the pan.
  • Rub the cut surfaces with oil.
  • Sprinkle the pieces with kosher salt.

 

 

3.  Cook your pumpkin….At this point you are ready to cook your pumpkin. This can be done in at least three different cooking methods—boiling, roasting, and steaming.

 

a.  Boiling your puree..Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pumpkin to the boiling water, Cook for about 25 minutes or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife.

b.  Steaming  your puree,…Place the pumpkin pieces in either a steamer or a metal colander placed over a pot of boiling water. Cover. Let steam for about 50 minutes or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife.

c.  Roasting your puree…Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bake the pumpkin halves until you can easily insert a paring knife into the pumpkin, This can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on just how large your pumpkin halves actually were.

 

 

4.  Preparing the Puree…

Now that your pumpkin has cooked, your goal is to squash it…until the entire pumpkin has basically turned into baby food.

Let the cooked pumpkin halves cool for at least an hour.

Use a large spoon to remove the roasted flesh of the pumpkin from the skin.

Now smoosh it into smithereens…

This can be done using a food processor, blender, immersion blender, potato masher, or even a fork.

Continue pureeing until all the pumpkin is totally smooth.

If you want your pumpkin more watery, add a few tablespoons of water at a time.

If you want your pumpkin less watery, strain it over a fine mesh strainer to get rid of some of the liquid.

 

 

 

5.  Now what?

At this point you have a choice to either refrigerate and use the pumpkin within the next seven days or to freeze it in Ziploc bags, where it will keep for three months.

If freezing it, store about one cup of pumpkin in each bag.

I honestly find that a smarter idea would be to go ahead and start holiday baking with the fresh pumpkin puree. These five days of baking can save you much needed time later on in the holiday season.

 

After, it’s the most wonderful time of the year…to be getting ready for the most wonderful time of the year…

My how quickly this year has flown!!!

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Peter Piper Pumpkin Picker

So this is the one and only time all year that all of us, or perhaps most of us at least, buy a pumpkin.

But how many of us would actually recognize the Great Pumpkin if we actually did see it?

1.PassionHalloween should be as fun as possible for your entire family. Don’t be like the lady that we all hate on the movie The Grinch who gets out her tape measure and actually measures the pumkin before buying it.

Never forget that the holidays—not only Halloween, but also Thanksgiving and Christmas—are supposed to be fun, Be passionate about spending time with your family, not spending more money than your neighbors did on the orange globe sitting on your front porches.

2. PerfectionThe pumpkin that you choose doesn’t have to be perfect. Choosing one with bumps and lumps have character.

3.Personal Preference…The perfect pumpkin is that one pumpkin that you or your child could never imagine leaving the PSL without—even though it isn’t the shape or size that everyone else is attracted to. Follow your heart, not the crowd.

4. PigmentationIt is okay if your pumpkin is not a bright orange like the ones that you see on children’s movies and books.

Even though many will say, “the darker the color, the better the pumpkin,” use your common sense here…most of us can tell if a pumkin is the “ugly duckling” of the pumpkin patch.

Just make sure that the top of the pumpkin, specifically around the stem, is not dull, because this indicates frost damage.

5. PitchThe pumpkin that you choose should have a deep, echoing sound when you pick it up, hold the pumpkin next to your ear, and knock on its side with your knuckles.

The louder the sound, the better the pumpkin.

6. PostBy “post” I simply mean the stem, but couldn’t come up with another synonym for the word “stem” that didn’t seem vulgar.

Anyway, the pumpkin that you choose should have a hard, dark green or black stem.

Squeeze the stem to test its firmness. If the stem is soft to the touch, it’s not an ideal pick.

The stem should not bend and break when you pick it up…that would be about like the trunk of the just-chosen Christmas tree snapping in two before you get out of the Christmas Tree lot.

7. Potholes…Gently press on the pumpkin with your finger to make sure that there aren’t any soft spots that indicate that the pumpkin has already started to decay and won’t last much longer.

The pumpkin should be firm all over.

Even though the pumpkin may look perfect from the outside, you do not want to start carving your pumpkin, only to find that it’s rotten.

8.  Profile…Choose an oblong pumpkin, as opposed to a round one. Round or oval pumpkins are easier to carve, have more workspace, and a bigger cavity filled with more seeds.

Choose a pumpkin with a flat bottom that sits well.

9. ProportionIf you are going to be using your pumpkin for baking and cooking, avoid those big pumpkins that are typically sold to be carved into jack-o’-lanterns, regardless of how appealing they may seem.

Those bigger pumpkins are definitely not the best when it comes to cooking and baking. In fact, bigger pumpkins are typically very stringy, bland, and watery.

Instead look for pumpkins that weigh from four to eight pounds and that are labeled as “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins”—such as Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina , Cinderella, and Fairy Tale.

If only big carving pumpkins are available, choose a winter squash like butternut squash instead, if you will actually be cooking or baking with it.

10. Punctures and Pimples…Choose a pumpkin that has no scrapes, brown spots, bruises, cuts, or holes on its surface. Any of these “punctures and pimples” will make your pumpkin rot faster.

11.Purpose…Choose the thickness of the walls of your pumpkin according to what you will be using for. If you are going to be making a jack o’ lantern, choose a pumpkin with thin walls. If you are going to be cooking with it, choose a pumpkin with thicker walls.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Make Mine a Tall

But there are times when the smallest cup just won’t do…

And there are times when the smallest pumpkin in the PSL just won’t do either…

So let’s take a look at the tall menu…

This is the size pumpkin typically used to carve Jack o’ Lanterns, and if you’ve carved your share of these pumpkins over the last thirty years as I have, you think of these pumpkins, and probably all pumpkins in general, as one huge stringy mess widh a dry, flavorless “taste”…just sitting there begging to be carved lavishly, to be placed in a corner where they will eventually rot and have to be thrown away, or at best being used as a soup tureen.

Make Mine a Tall

This category includes pumpkins that weight from eight to twenty-five pounds, and the most common varieties include…

Fairytale

  • Best for…cooking or baking pumpkin pies.
  • Size…about 15″ around and 6″ high
  • Weight…twenty to thirty pounds
  • Skin Color…dark green turns to an orange color when ripe
  • Shape…flat
  • Shelf Life
  • Texture
  • Flesh Color…bright orange
  • Vertical Ribbing…,deep

Make mine a Venti

(15 to 25 pounds)

The following are some of the most common monster-sized pumpkins—such as the world record pumpkin that weighed over 2,300 pounds

These are the great big huge ones that are proudly shown by their owners at county fairs and international pumpkin harvest festivals…where the pumpkins compete for bragging rights—such as a award, ribbon, cash prize, and notoriety.

These pumpkins are really now grown to be eaten because these pumpkins often lack the flavor of smaller pumpkins.

These pumpkins are really not good for carving either because scooping out the pulp can be a chore.

But they do make eye-catching displays on porches and in public places.

Some of the most common otf these pumpkins are,,,

  • Atlantic Giant
  • Big Max:
  • Big Moon
  • Dill’s Atlantic Giant
  • Mammoth Gold
  • Musquee de Provence.
  • Prizewinner
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Other PSL

By now if you’re anything like me, you’ve already spent half a paycheck on PSL’s, and your Starbucks membership has jumped from silver to platinum, completely hurdling over silver status.

But today I want to talk to you about another trend of this season…the other PSL…

 

…the Pumpkin Sales Lot…

The first time that I ever went to a “pumpkin patch” worth even mentioning was back when my girls were about five and seven…

That was about twenty years ago.

Up until that day I assumed that all pumpkins were orange and round, maybe even plastic since neither my parents or my husband for some strange reason never bothered to buy and carve the expected jack o’ lantern each Halloween…

We were doing good to simply put the tree up before New Year’s Day and take it down by Easter, right?!

Anyway, there I stood in that great big field of all shapes, colors, and sizes of pumpkins…and there I was with them wanting one of each different type…a white one, a green one, a blue one, a tall one, a squat ones, and obviously an orange one…

I felt the same way that I did when I lived in Germany and would travel places where the only words that I knew were numbers and the only phrases that I could say were…

“Where is the bathroom?”

“How much does it cost?”

Actually that’s the only three things that we need to know if it gets right down to it, right?

Anyway, here I was standing on American soil, speaking my native language, and all I could do was say “two” and point out what I wanted and ask how much it cost?

Flash forward thirty years…

Here I sit, fifty years old, getting ready to take the “resident four year old” to a huge pumpkin patch in the morning.

Hoping not to feel like a foreigner in my own country out in the country looking totally stupid by thinking that all pumpkins had to be orange and round…

So this year I’m brushing up on my pumpkin recognition skills, or at least taking this “cheat sheet” with us.

To keep things simple, I have grouped the most common pumpkins into three obvious, or at least obvious to any true PSL, categories—the tall, the grande, the venti, and the trenta.

And made a quick list of the characteristics of the most common varieties of each size that you are likely to see…

(I had originally planned on doing this as one post listing pumpkin varieties within each size group, but that article would have been longer than the “resident four year old”‘s  Christmas wish list and that of my two college aged daughters…so doing this in three segments)…

So looking at the smallest group of pumpkins first, let’s see what your options are…

  • Size
  • Skin Color
  • Shape
  • Shelf Life
  • Texture
  • Flesh Color
  • Vertical Ribbing

The Tall (2 to 8 pounds)

This category—the smallest available “cup”— probably are best suited for decorating the porch or front steps. even though these smallest pumpkins have a great tasting, buttery flesh that makes the very best pies, cookies, baked treats, soups-, and almost any other recipe originally calling for squash.

But if you don’t feel like taking the time to prep two dozen different pumpkins, you could always simply carve it, paint it, or hollow it out and stick a flower into it…

1.Baby Bear

  • Best for…pies, roasted pumpkin seeds…also makes an attractive bowl for serving soup, stews, and chili
  • Size…one to two pounds
  • Skin Color…deep orange
  • Shape…flattened

2.  Baby Boo

  • Best for…decorating because it’s supposedly inedible
  • Size…typically the size of your palm
  • Skin Color…bright white; which tends to turn yellow if exposed to direct sunlight
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep

4.  Baby Pam

  • Best for…pies because of its sugary, starchy, string-less, dry flesh
  • Size…three to four pounds
  • Skin Color…deep orange, yellow if immature
  • Texture…very smooth

5. Casper

  • Best for…pies and baking
  • Skin Color…bright white
  • Shape…more round than squat
  • Vertical Ribbing…slight ribbing

6.  Kakai

  • Best for…Although these pumkins are edible, they are better known for their blue seeds, which can be roasted
  • Size…five to eight pounds
  • Skin Color…gray with orange stripes or ribbing

7. Lakota

  • Best for…its butternut squash-like flavor.
  • Size…five to seven pounds
  • Skin Color…red with green and black markings
  • Vertical Ribbing… light

8. Long Island Cheese

  • Size…six to ten pounds
  • Skin Color…pale yellow or orange
  • Shelf Life…up to a year
  • Flesh Color…bright, deep orange
  • Vertical Ribbing…light

9.  Lumina

  • Best for…baking
  • Skin Color…bright white
  • Texture…smooth
  • Flesh Color…bright yellow

10.  Marina Di Chioggia

  • Best for…having a sweet flavor that makes it a favorite for cooking
  • Size…six to twelve pounds
  • Skin Color…green
  • Shape…squat
  • Texture…thick and warty​ skin
  • Flesh Color…yellow/orange

11.  Musee de Provence:

  • Best for…snacking because it actually has a rich, sweet, creamy, taste…often sold in slices in French markets
  • Skin Color…pale orange-yellow
  • Flesh Color…yellow-orange
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep and distinct

12.  Tiger

  • Size…about 5″ around and 3″ high
  • Skin Color…yellow with orange mottling
  • Shape…flat with recessed stem
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep at the top, then fading at the bottom

13.  White Ghost

  • Skin Color…pure white
  • Shape…squat
  • Flesh Color…bright yellow

14.  Winter Luxury

  • Best for…baking
  • Size…up to six pounds
  • Skin Color…unique netted-looking pale orange
  • Shape…round
  • Shelf Life
  • Flesh Color
  • Vertical Ribbing

Other varieities of  these smaller pumpkins that you might encounter include…

  • Baby Boo (white)
  • Jack-Be-Little (standard orange miniature)
  • Jack-Be-Quick (taller, darker orange)
  • Munchkin (uniform, attractive orange fruit)
  • Sweetie Pie (small, scalloped, medium orange fruit)
  • Lil’ Ironsides F1
  • Magic Lantern
  • Lil’ Pump-Ke- Mon F1
  • Merlin F1
  • Howden
  • Howden Biggie
  • Gold Rush
  • Mystic
  • Spooktacular
  • Tallman
  • Early Autumn
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pumpkin…The Why?!

Pumpkin is not only a highly low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that is rich in vitamins and minerals, but also help you have a healthier complexion, healthier hair, and more energy.

So let’s take a look at the specific nutritional level of pumpkin and how eating more pumpkin could be beneficial for diabetics…

First, a few nutritional facts…

Beta-Carotene…Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color. Beta-carotene is easily converted into vitamin A…which in turn triggers the creation of white blood cells that fight infection.

This is important because consuming foods that are rich in beta-carotene may reduce your risk of developing certain illnesses, such as

  • age-related macular degeneration
  • asthma
  • certain types of cancer, including prostate and colon cancer
  • degenerative damage to the eyes
  • diabetes
  • heart disease

Calories...One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 49 calories.

Carbohydrates...One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 12.01 grams of carbohydrates.

Cholesterol…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains no cholesterol.

Fat…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 0.17 g of fat.

Fiber…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 2.7 g of fiber. Canned pumpkin provides over 7 grams of fiber.

Although the recommended daily fiber intake is between 25 and 30 grams, most Americans typically only get 15 grams of fiber per day.

Fiber is important for slowing the rate of sugar absorption into the blood and promoting regular bowel movements, and supporting the digestive system in general.

Protein…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains
1.76 g of protein.

Vitamin A…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains more than 200% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A.

Vitamin C...One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 19% of the RDA of vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for the immune system, especially important on days like today when the temperature is lunging from 85 degrees today to about 50 degrees tomorrow.

Other Nutrients…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 10% or more of the RDA of vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese… as well as at least 5% of thiamin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Finally, what benefits do pumpkin, pumpkin oil, and pumpkin seeds have to offer type 2 diabetics?

Pumpkins can lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, and help control diabetes, because of the powerful effect that plant compounds found in both pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pulp have on the absorption of glucose into the tissues and intestines.

Not only that, pumpkin also helps balance levels of liver glucose.

In fact, these plant compounds found within the pumpkin seeds and pulp have such an impact on diabetes that there is research being done as to using them in anti-diabetic medication.

So now I am headed out the door and to the nearest Starbucks for a grande PSL with extra sugar…after all, pumpkin is healthy, right?

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

IMG_4247

The other day I found myself surfing Netflix to see if Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin episode was on there and making a special trip to Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte.

Yes…it’s time for the great pumpkin….not to mention Pumpkin Spice latte.

 

And needless to say, the pumpkin is great indeed…

 

Great for great recipes…

Great for great coffee…

Great for decorating your home not only for Halloween, but also for fall…

Great for “kitchen beauty” concoctions such as hair masks and facials…

Great for nutrition…

 

No other vegetable, other than perhaps the sweet potato, has the same sweet, cinnamon-y taste that nostalgically reminds us of Halloween and Thanksgivings long ago.

But have you ever thought about the health benefits that this great pumpkin, not to mention pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil have to offer…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

One Bad Apple Actually DOES Spoil the Entire Bunch

Okay, you’ve picked the very, very best apple out of the entire bin of apples to choose from…

Congratulations on a job well done…

 

But, wait…

Choosing the very best apple will not matter at all if you neglect to take care of it properly when you get it home.

So what exactly are you supposed to do with your apples?!

 

There are actually three options as to where/how you could store your apples…

  1. Cool, Dry, Dark Space…Perhaps the best way to store freshly picked apples for the  longest period of time would be to  wrap them in paper, place folded-side down in a single layer on a tray, and store in a cool, dark, dry place—somewhere between  32°F and 40°F.
  2. Refrigerator…Sprinkle your apples with water and then store them in a perforated plastic bag in the coldest area of the refrigerator, They should stay fresh for two or three weeks.
  3. Room Temperature….Apples can be stored at room temperature for a short period of time, but check  apples stored at room regularly, because apples stored at room temperature will ripen faster than if were stored in the refrigerator.

 

Now for a few more quick tips on storing apples…

—Do not allow the individual apples to touch, because it is actually an established fact that one bad apple actually does spoil the entire bunch.

 

Keep your apples away from other fruits and vegetables if storing them in the refrigerator. Apples produce and emit ethylene gas, a gas that causes fruits and vegetables stored anywhere near them to ripen and spoil more quickly.

Even though this interaction between apples and other produce is usually considered a bad thing, you can also take advantage of this fact if you do actually need to speed the ripening of other fruits,

In order to do this, place an apple, with the unripe fruit, in a paper bag. Seal and make a few slits in the bag. Allow the bag to stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 days

 

Finally, regardless of how your apples are being stored, check them quite frequently to see if any apples have begun to rot.

Because one bad apples spoils the entire bunch.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to Pick the Very Best Apples

Regardless which apple you are picking your apples from—Honeycrisp, Empire, Golden Delicious, Ambrosia, Spartam Mitsu, Jonagold, Ida Red , Fuji, Granny Smith…

And regardless which recipe you will be making with the apples that you have chosen…

There are always certain things to keep in mind when picking apples.

These things to keep in mind when picking apples include…

 

1.Quantity…Avoid those pre-bagged bags of fruit. They think that they are doing you a huge favor bagging the fruit for you so that you won’t have to inconvenience yourself, right?!

Wrong!!!

How long does it take to bag fruit, in the first place??!

Exactly?!

They just want to fund a way to sell apples that are still in good enough shape to be sold in a bag with more of the motley crew, but would never make it to the cart if you actually had to  pick that apple up with your own hand.

 

 

2. Season…It is important to buy your fruits and vegetables while they are “in season” in order to find the best quality.

Fruits and vegetables that are available “out of season” have been typically traveled quite a while from where they have been grown to where they are being sold, meaning that these fruits and vegetables usually, if not always, lacks the flavor of fruit in season.

We are now in the peak few months of apple pickin’ season—August until October.

After October, most of the apples that you will find available have been harvested in October and stored so that there can always be a supply of apples available, but these are hardly ever as good as the apples that you can find now…

 

3. Maturity…Another factor to consider when selecting apples is maturity, how ripe the apple actually was when it was picked from the tree.

Maturity is important because once an apple has been taken off the tree, that apple will not continue to ripen.

If the apple is not actually ripe when taken off the tree, the apple will not have a good flavor, texture, or color.

If the apple is not actually ripe when taken off the tree, the apple will not have the same storing capability and the skin will start looksing wrinkled after being kept only a short time in storage.

 

 

4. Texture…To tell if an apple will have a good texture, simply pick it up and make sure that it feels firm , and not squishy.

Another way to check the texture of the apple and make sure that the apple is ripe would be to flick the apple near the stem and listen for a dull thud.

 

5. Blemishes…Check the apple for any markings—such as bruising, blemishes, holes where insects may have entered, and any other -obvious signs of decay.

 

6. Weight...Pick the fruit up. If it’s heavy for its size, then you have successfully found yourself a good piece of fruit.

 

7. Color…Even though color is not always the best indicator of great produce, color can still be important.

Buy only apples that are brightly colored., not dull.

Brightly colored fruit has absorbed lots of sunlight, important for developing the  flavor of the fruit.

Dullness may indicate that the apple ss past its prime..

 

 

8. Smell…Smell the apple to make sure it smells fresh, not musty.

Note that not all apples will smell the same. The scent of the ale will vary between one variety and another. For example, Gala apples will have a stronger fragrance than most other varieties. Just make sure that the apple doesn’t stink.