West Indian Pumpkin is a round or oblong squash that is popular in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The color of the skin can vary and can include green, orange and tan hues. The flesh of the West Indian Pumpkin is firm and bright orange with a sweet flavor similar to butternut squash. The Taíno Indians cultivated the pumpkins and were known to add pieces of pumpkin to the stewed beans to thicken the sauce. Today, we prepare pumpkin custard (flan) and pumpkin fritters (barriguitas de viejas).
As of 2015, I have been growing my own West Indian Pumpkins and each pumpkin has its own shape, color and size (pictured on left). Because I add pumpkin to our stews, soups, beans, desserts, breads, I usually prepare, package and freeze the pumpkins in advance for future use. Therefore, I will illustrate two different methods for preparing the pumpkin when a recipe calls for chunks of pumpkin or puréed pumpkin.
I Love Our West Indian Pumpkin!
I had to purchase this West Indian Pumpkin because my pumpkins were not ready to be harvested. This particular pumpkin weighed 13 pounds and the skin color is solid orange with brown colored patches. You can purchase a whole pumpkin or pumpkin wedges at the Latin Market.
How to Prepare the West Indian Pumpkin!
Cut the whole pumpkin into 8 equal wedges lengthwise. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and strings from the pumpkin wedges.
Insert a knife between the skin and flesh to peel the pumpkin, using a downward stroke.
Preparing the Pumpkin When a Recipe Calls for Chunks of Pumpkin!
After removing the seeds/strings and peeling the pumpkin wedges, cut 4 pumpkin wedges into 1 to 1½-inch chunks.
Place the chunks of pumpkin into snack bags, approximately 4 ounces per bag.
I normally have 12 snack bags filled with chunks of pumpkin. I then place the snack bags into two gallon bags. The gallon bags are dated and stored in the freezer for future use. Whenever I am making my stewed beans, soups or beef stew that the recipe calls for pumpkin pieces, I retrieve the chunks of pumpkin (one snack bag) from the freezer and place it directly into the pot without thawing.
Preparing the Pumpkin When a Recipe Calls for Puréed Pumpkin!
Fill bottom of steamer with water and insert steamer basket. Cut the other 4 pumpkin wedges into 2 to 3-inch chunks and place in steamer basket.
Place saucepan on stove over medium-low heat and steam pumpkins for approximately 30 minutes or until fork tender. Repeat this process until all the remaining chunks of pumpkin are steamed.
Place the steamed pumpkin into a bowl. With a potato masher, crush the cooked pumpkin until a creamy texture is formed.
Add puréed pumpkin into 12-ounce plastic containers and cover with tight-fitting lid. Place in freezer for future use.
When I make pumpkin flan, pumpkin bread or pumpkin fritters, I just remove a container from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator to thaw. You can also defrost the puréed pumpkin in the microwave if you so desire.
Click on the button below to watch my YouTube Video on How to Prepare and Package West Indian Pumpkin!
Recipe and Nutritional Facts
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Learn how to prepare and package West Indian Pumpkin in advance to later add to your favorite stews, soups, fritters, beans and desserts.
1 whole pumpkin (13 pounds), cut into 8 equal pumpkin wedges.
- Remove the seeds and strings from pumpkin wedges. Peel the pumpkin wedges.
- Cut 4 pumpkin wedges into 1 to 1½-inch chunks.
- Place chunks of pumpkin in snack bags (approximately 4 ounces each bag).
- Place snack bags in gallon bags and store in freezer for future use.
- Cut the other 4 pumpkin wedges into 2 to 3-inch chunks.
- Place chunks of pumpkin into steamer basket over medium-low heat and steam pumpkin for approximately 30 minutes or until fork tender.
- Place steamed pumpkin in bowl and mash with a potato masher until a creamy texture is formed.
- Add the puréed pumpkin into 12-ounce plastic containers and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the freezer for future use.
Now you can make delicious desserts (custards, pies, breads), stews, fritters, beans and soups with minimal preparation time because the pumpkin was prepared in advance.
Yield: 12 snack bags (4 ounces of pumpkin per bag) and 5 containers (12 ounces of puréed pumpkin per container).
- Category: Food Preparation Techniques
Keywords: West Indian Pumpkin