Pumpkin Pointers

— Written By Eleanor Summers and last updated by

When selecting a pumpkin for cooking, the best selection is a “pie pumpkin” or “sweet pumpkin.”  For each following cooking method, cut a pumpkin into four pieces and set in pans with rind side on the bottom. Remove seeds and stringy portions.

Pumpkin Cooking Pointers

Boiling – Rinse in cold water. Boil prepared pumpkin in a covered pan with a small amount of water until tender, about 25-30 minutes. After cooking, peel, drain, and puree.

Steamed – Place prepared pumpkin on a wire rack or metal colander over boiling water in a covered container. Steam until tender, about 40 – 50 minutes. Remove from steam, peel and puree as directed.

Baked – Cut pumpkin in half, scraping away stringy mass and seeds. Rinse under cold water. Place pumpkin cut side down on a large cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for one hour or until fork tender.

Microwave – Cut pumpkin in half, place cut side down on a microwave safe plate or tray. Microwave on high for 15 minutes, check for doneness. If necessary continue cooking at 1-2 minute intervals until fork tender. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, remove the peel using a small sharp knife and your fingers.

Puree – Fresh pumpkin pure can be used in all recipes calling for canned pumpkin. Put the peeled pumpkin in a food processor and puree or use a food mill, ricer, strainer or potato masher to form a puree.

Use the puree to make a guiltless pumpkin pie. No crust and fat-free milk saves calories. One slice is 120 calories. Recipe adapted from Iowa State University Extension’s SpendsmartEatsmart blog.

Guiltless Pumpkin Pie


  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or ¾ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 15 oz. fresh pureed or can pumpkin
  • 1 5-ounce can fat free evaporated milk
  • Optional: Low fat whipped topping and ground cinnamon.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or spray a 9-inch pie plate; set aside.
  2. Place eggs in large bowl, beat with a fork or whisk. Add sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Stir in pumpkin and evaporated milk. Pour into prepared pie plate.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes – or until center is set.
  5. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time. If desired, add a spoonful of low-fat whipped topping to each serving and sprinkle with additional ground cinnamon.

pumpkin pie