Try using pumpkins for flour when baking more than pies

October 28, 2020

In 1584, French explorer Jacques Cartier found great round orange-skinned squash the likes of which he had never seen before. It is from his French “gros melons” or “pompions,” that we have today's English 'pumpkins.'

Even though Jacques Cartier traveled 3,500 miles to find pumpkins, the pumpkins have traveled farther. Native to Central America, pumpkins were carried north by indigenous tribes and grown well into Canada.. Today pumpkins are fed to livestock, and baked into pies, breads, muffins and cheesecakes.

Pumpkin is high in potassium, fiber, and vitamin C, all of which can help control high blood pressure. Studies show that the orange beta carotene leads to reduced risk of cancer. And finally, pumpkins, when not made into pies, can help control your weight because they are filling but 90 percent water. Pumpkins can also be dried and ground into flour. Pumpkin flour is gluten free, grain free, dairy free, and soy free. Pumpkin flour has a slightly sweet taste and can replace all-purpose wheat flour, giving baked goods a lightness and freshness. Pumpkin flour is a good source of copper, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium along with Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

Because pumpkin flour can keep for longer periods than fresh pumpkin, it was a way for people to store pumpkin over the winter. It has been mentioned in cookbooks since 1818. Use pumpkin flour in baked goods such as bread, brownies, cookies, pancakes, cakes, muffins, waffles, and even ice creams and smoothies.

The best varieties for pumpkin flour are the same pumpkin varieties that make the best pies. Try small, 5-8-pound sugar pumpkins such as New England Sugar or Baby Pam. The warty Galeux D'Eysines (Cucurbita maxima) has a more delicate, almost-apple flavor in a 10-20-pound fruit.

The workhorse of small pumpkins is Triple Treat, with three outstanding qualities. It has hull-less seeds that roast easily, the orange shell is perfect for painting or carving, and the sweet orange flesh is perfect for drying into pumpkin flour.

Plant pie pumpkins directly in the garden after all danger of frost has passed and the earth has warmed up. Choose a spot where they will get lots of sunshine. The ideal soil has a pH of 6 to 7.0. Plant several seeds in a “hill” or mound of soil. By hilling up the soil, you improve drainage, and the soil heats up faster for better germination. Space the hills four feet apart for smaller pumpkins and up to eight feet apart in the row for larger pumpkins.

To make your own pumpkin flour, slice the pumpkin into thin strips and dry in a dehydrator or warm oven until crispy. Be sure the pieces are thoroughly dried. Grind the dried pumpkin in a food processor or blender.

When you want to add pumpkin to a recipe, simply rehydrate your pumpkin powder into pumpkin puree. Just add 4 parts of water to 1 part of pumpkin flour. Let the water and pumpkin flour mixture sit for about 20 minutes as it reconstitutes into pumpkin puree.

The dried flour can also be used without reconstituting in water by adding it directly to soups, stews and even gravy. Use some pumpkin flour to add a bit of thickening and a wonderful, robust flavor to soups.

When using pumpkin flour as a substitute for wheat flour, you can’t totally substitute all of the amount, but you can almost always replace up to 25 percent of the wheat flour with pumpkin flour.

So don't trash your jack-o'-lantern or bake every pumpkin into pie. Dry your own pumpkin flour, and you will have nutritious breads, muffins, ice cream and smoothies. You will bask in cleverness, although not as clever as the man who took a pumpkin and divided its circumference by its radius and made the first “Pumpkin Pi.”


  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.

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