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The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is only the beginning of the onslaught of pumpkin products that fall brings. And yes, we get it: you want to be festive. You want to wash your hair with pumpkin pie shampoo and then frolic in a pumpkin patch while eating pumpkin pie.

No.

There are rules for using pumpkins. Rules that ensure you don’t get tossed into a vat of white chocolate pumpkin latte mix (by us). Here are the pumpkin products we endorse and despise, as well as a few cooking (and carving) tips that will get you through Pumpkin Season 2K13.

  • 1. Canned pumpkin is 10000% acceptable.

    The texture of pumpkin purée can’t be beat. Let go of your epicurean pride and embrace Libby’s. Libby’s for life.

  • 2. Keep carving tools simple.

    Nothing cleans out a pumpkin better then a metal serving spoon, and a paring knife is the best for pumpkin carving detail work.

  • 3. Try pumpkin with brown butter- many ways.

    I love brown butter and pumpkin in both sweet and savory applications. It works beautifully with brown sugar and warm spices, but also with sage and pecorino. Yum.

  • 4. Roast the seeds.

    Whether you’re carving that pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern or using its flesh in your cooking, always roast the seeds! They’re the best snack, and throwing them away should be punishable by law.

  • 5. Don’t use a pre-blended pumpkin pie spice.

    This gourd loves cardamom and allspice, but they’re almost never included in the blends you can buy at the supermarket. Plus, you can go hot and heavy with the spices you prefer.

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