In season in California: Late September through November.
How to choose good pumpkins: Advice from Martha Stewart on picking the right pumpkin to bring into your kitchen: “Make sure to choose a variety of pumpkin that's intended for cooking, rather than for decoration. The ubiquitous field pumpkin -- the kind most commonly used to carve jack-o'-lanterns -- has watery, stringy flesh and is not recommended for eating. Sugar pumpkins and cheese pumpkins are two widely available varieties that are good for cooking and baking, thanks to their dense, sweet flesh.” We’ll add to that advice: When selecting cooking pumpkins, look for those that still have a full, long stem attached to the top, which usually indicates the flesh will be fresh and store well without deteriorating quickly.
Taste: Very similar to butternut squash.
Health benefits: Pumpkins are very low in calories and contain no saturated fats or cholesterol while being rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. A 2010 article published in “Nutrition Research Reviews” notes that pumpkin supports a strong immune system and can help reduce inflammation.