By Jannie Vaught
More than a Spice latte, this “Fruit” has been feeding humans for over 5000 years. Cucurbita pepo is originated from Mexico. Yes, it is a fruit and is known for its hard skin dense pulp, and many seeds. From orange to yellow to white this fruit is a nutritional plus. Low in calories and dense in vitamins and minerals.
The word Pumpkin first showed up in a fairy tale. “Cinderella”. A French explorer in 1584 first called them “gros melons” which translates into English “pompions”. According to History, it wasn’t until the 17th century that they were first referred to as pumpkins. The original “Jack o’ lantern” was made with turnips and potatoes by the Irish. They are grown in every continent except Antarctica. Over 1.5 Billion pounds are grown each year in the United States.
The top producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. Morton Illinois calls itself the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.” 80% of the canned pumpkin comes from here. The Worlds heaviest pumpkin weighed in over 2,600 pounds. and the biggest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 3,699 pounds. Original pumpkin pie was a cleaned out pumpkin filled with milk, cream, honey, and spice and baked in hot ashes. Each pumpkin has about 500 seeds. They take between 90 to 120 days to mature so plant them from May to July. There are 45 different varieties ranging in colors from red to yellow, green, and orange with names like Holligan, Delicata, Orange smoothie, and Cotton candy. With Red Kuri being a favorite to grow. From soup to nuts this fruit is completely edible, leaves, and stems too.
Now that we have all the unusual facts on the pumpkin I would like to sign in on this wonderful plant that feeds the world from curry to pie to even animal feed, I have never eaten a pumpkin dish I didn’t truly love. As we are now into the big displays at our grocery stores we tend to buy them as ornaments. To decorate the porch. All those pumpkins you see are food. I found delicata a long shaped squash with green stripes and Red Kuri plus Pink and Orange. Yes, winter squash is here and abundant for us to enjoy. We eat them baked with sweet and spice or make purree for pie for the holiday or made into savory soups. I save all the seeds as they are mature and the seeds are good to plant. Wash thoroughly dry and place in an airtight bag and write the variety and date on the bag. I get food and seed. Bonus. Fall is all about the harvest.
We are truly blessed to be able to spread our tables with abundant food, and I might add this is looking to be a good harvest. I’m cooking pumpkin, saving seeds, and Growing Green with Jannie