Peculiar Pumpkins
October 23, 2023
Peculiar Pumpkins

Learn more about these gorgeous gourds, including how to eat them!

Pumpkins are an iconic symbol of fall, from jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween to the main ingredient of pumpkin pie. However, unless you’re making your own pumpkin puree, the canned pumpkin you use is in fact NOT made from pumpkins!

If not pumpkin, what’s in my pumpkin puree?
Most canned pumpkin is made from Dickinson, Hubbard, Boston Marrow, or Butternut squash. These squash varieties are used because they produce a consistent flavor and texture of puree. Pumpkins often have more stringy fibers and less natural sweetness, making them less ideal for baking. Although, the smaller Sugar or Pie pumpkins have more colorful and sweeter flesh which is perfect for making your own pumpkin puree.

All pumpkins are squash, but not all squash are pumpkins.
Pumpkins are members of the genus which includes many species of gourds and squash. The FDA does not differentiate between members of this genus. Therefore, even if your canned puree says “100% pumpkin,” you could be getting any number of these winter squashes.

Pumpkin Facts

  • Pumpkins are native to North America.
  • The leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds are edible.
  • The U.S. record (2019) for the largest pumpkin weighed 2,517.5 pounds!
  • Botanically speaking, pumpkins are fruit because they contain seeds inside.
  • Pumpkins are a fruit called a pepo.
  • A pepo is a fleshy fruit with numerous seeds inside and a firm rind.

Pumpkin Bread Recipe


Dry ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Wet ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or fresh
    • 5 lb. pie pumpkin = ~2.5 cups puree

Optional add-ins:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, or chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, and oil in separate
  4. mixing bowl.
  5. Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  6. Fold in optional add-ins, if desired.
  7. Pour the mixture into greased 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out
    clean, about 60-65 minutes.
  9. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree


  • Sugar or Pie pumpkin
    • One 5 lb. pie pumpkin yields about 2.5 cups puree


  1. Heat oven to 400 °F.
  2. Rinse the pumpkin and pat dry.
  3. Cut pumpkin in half and scrape out seeds and stringy bits.
  4. Bonus recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds included below!
  5. Place pumpkin halves onto an oven safe baking dish with the cut side facing down.
  6. Bake until pumpkin can easily be pierced with a knife and skin is peeling away, about 45
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.
  8. Peel skin off and place flesh into a food processor or blender.
  9. Process or blend until very smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
  10. Store puree in the fridge for up to one week or freeze for up to three months.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Other seasonings, as desired:

  • Brown sugar and sea salt
  • Maple syrup, cinnamon, and sea salt
  • Oregano, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese


  1. To remove large pieces of pumpkin pulp, place pulp and seeds in a large bowl and cover
    with cool water. Use your hands to separate pulp from seeds.
  2. Remove clean seeds, pat dry, and place in a clean bowl.
  3. Preheat oven to 275 °F.
  4. Drizzle seeds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Add additional seasonings as desired.
  5. Lay seeds on baking sheet in single layer.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  7. Remove, let cool, and enjoy!
  8. Store at room temperature.

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