When you wake up Tuesday, it will be October. Now I don’t know how it is for you, but I know in my mind, once October finally arrives, it is officially, definitively, positively fall. When you think of fall, what is one of the first things that comes to your mind? Perhaps it’s the fall leaves, cooler temperatures, shorter days, sweaters, or colorful landscapes--or maybe you are like me and when you think of fall, you think of pumpkins!
There are many things to love about this most favorite fall fruit. (Yes, I did say fruit- more on that later!) From the bright orange color to the yummy treats that can be made out of this bulbous gourd, there’s much more to the pumpkin than meets the eye. Here’s what we think you need to know about pumpkins!
- Pumpkins are actually a fruit, and in fact are technically a berry. Pumpkins are often treated as a vegetable, however, but they are really a part of the same family as melons, cucumbers, squash and gourds.
- Pumpkin is very good for you. Not only is pumpkin low in calories and fat, but it also is high in fiber while being loaded with nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein and iron.
- Smaller, special varieties of pumpkins (New England Sugar or Baby Pam) are grown in order make pies as these tinier versions tend to be much sweeter than the larger pumpkins.
- Very large, giant pumpkins most likely all are related to the very evolved pumpkin seeds created at the turn of the century by William Warnock. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for people to attempt to grow record-breaking size pumpkins. In 2012, the world’s largest pumpkin was recorded at the Topsfield, Massachusetts County Fair, weighing in at 2009 pounds!
- Most pumpkins that are grown are used for processing with only a very small percentage being grown for ornamental use.
- Pumpkin seeds can (and should) be roasted for a yummy snack!
- The name Pumpkin originates from the word “pepon” which is the Greek word for large melon.
- Eighty percent of the entire pumpkin population is available in the month of October.
- Early colonists used to slice off the tops of pumpkins, remove the seeds and the pumpkin guts, and then they added milk, spices and honey to the inside, then replacing the lid. The pumpkin was then placed in hot ashes and baked. This, my friends, was the very first original and rudimentary version of pumpkin pie! Want a Pumpkin Pie recipe that is a little bit more modern? Try Grandma Norma’s traditional Pumpkin Pie…delicious! (Because, let’s face it, Jack-o-Lantern’s aside, for me; pumpkins are all about the pie!)
- 1½ c. canned or cooked pumpkin or squash
- 1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 2 T. molasses
- 3 eggs, slightly beaten
- 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
- 1 unbaked pie shell
Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices and molasses. Add eggs and milk; mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted Into the center of the pie comes out clean.
- Making Jack-o-Lantern’s out of pumpkins is a very pervasive and popular Halloween tradition. Believe it or not, the first Jack-o-Lanterns weren’t made from pumpkins at all, but were actually made from turnips. When Irish immigrants came to America, the prevalence of pumpkins and the general ease of growing these brightly colored gourds quickly made them the preferred subject used to make these traditional Halloween lanterns.
- Speaking of Jack, pumpkin aficionados say that if you cover your carved Jack-o-Lantern with a damp cloth when it’s not on display, it will help preserve its life a little bit longer. About a ½ hour after carving, wipe out your precious pumpkin Jack with a dry cloth and then coat the cut edges with petroleum jelly or brush on a little vegetable oil with a brush. This simple step will also keep your Jack smiling just a little bit longer.
“Oh how we love pumpkin season. You know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right? Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin…We anxiously anticipate it every year.” ~Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer