Turns Out Your Pumpkin In A Can Is Not What It Seems

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By Cooking Panda

Halloween may be over, but the holiday season is now upon is, which means pumpkins are still very, very much a trend.

You can bake them in a pie; you can roast their seeds; you can spice them up and shove them in a Starbucks drink to start a mania.

However, BuzzFeed has recently reported that all that canned pumpkin you’ve been picking up at the stores lately? Yeah — apparently it’s not necessarily pumpkin. In fact, in many cases, it’s actually butternut squash.

The horror!

As we know, pumpkins are gourds; however, not all gourds are our beloved, spooky, delicious and iconic pumpkins. 

According to BuzzFeed, even if your can of pumpkin’s label literally says that it is made with 100% authentic Halloween-pumpkin goodness (can you tell we’re still mourning the end of our favorite holiday?) that doesn’t mean it is actually made with that round, orange gourd you so know and love.

The pumpkin puree that you purchase in the grocery store is often made of squash instead.

It turns out that claiming that the cans of pumpkin are 100% pumpkin when they aren’t is actually something that’s been going on for a long time — in fact, it’s written about in a 1957 USDA document.

The text reads, “Canned pumpkin and canned squash is the canned product prepared from clean, sound, properly matured, golden fleshed, firm shelled, sweet varieties of either pumpkins or squashes by washing, stemming, cutting, steaming and reducing to a pulp.”

Yikes, ya’ll.

Apparently, companies have been substituting squash for pumpkins because even though everybody loves the look of a jack-o-lantern on Halloween night, or enjoys the idea of the squat, orange gourds transforming into functional carriages in fairytales, their flavor profile is allegedly more dull and less sweet compared to squash. Also, pumpkins aren’t the easiest thing to handle in the kitchen.

Oh well — as long as you stuff our pies full of all the correct spices, we suppose we can live with this reveal.

Source: BuzzFeed / Photo credits: Junior Master Gardener, USDA via BuzzFeed

Tags: butternut squash, canned pumpkin, gourds, pumpkin, usda
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How To Cut Up A Butternut Squash (Video)

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By Cooking Panda

Butternut squash is delicious and healthy. When cubed and roasted, it makes a fantastic side dish. If you puree it, you’ll have the base for a thick, cream soup, curry, or pasta sauce without having to add any dairy at all. But cutting up a whole squash can a very daunting task, and it’s a real pain if you don’t do it right.

Here is our favorite way to safely chop one up without too much hassle (video below):

Start by taking your squash and cutting the very top and bottom off. Try to cut the bottom flat so it will stand up straight — this will make it easier and safer to handle when you start hacking away.

Now stand it up and cut it in half, straight down the center from top to bottom (perpendicular to your first cut). You should see seeds and pulp in the middle. Take a spoon and scoop all of that out.

If you want, you can wash and roast the edible seeds in an oven or toaster oven until they are brittle and golden. Enjoy them like you would pumpkin seeds.

Now for the fun part: removing the skin. We found that the best way to do this is to cut the halves into smaller, more manageable pieces. Cut each half across into thirds. You should be cutting perpendicular to your last cut. Next, stand those pieces up on their side so they lie flat on the cutting board, and carefully make small cuts downward to remove the skin from each piece.

Dice the pieces as small as you want. We recommend cutting each slice lengthwise and then cutting parallel across that to make 1 inch cubes, but feel free to go wild.

For an easy butternut squash soup, try roasting the cubes until tender. Puree them with a chopped, cooked onion, a couple cloves of garlic and six cups of chicken or vegetable stock (for a two-to-three pound squash). Season however you like — we recommend salt, pepper and either nutmeg or paprika and cayenne pepper. Sour cream, green onions, croutons, or the roasted and shelled butternut squash seeds all make great toppings.

Tags: butternut squash, butternut squash soup, how to cut
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