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Pumpkin Facts & Information

There are four main species of cucurbits.

 

 

 

Pepo:

Some Pepos are eaten in the immature stage as thin-skinned summer squash. Most traditional Jack-o-lantern carving and baking pumpkins are of the Pepo species. Acorn squash and spaghetti squash are also part of this family. They have distinctive hard woody stems that have furrows in them. The pumpkins in this family are a deep or bright orange.

Maxima:

Maximas can get huge, and keep fairly well in storage. You can usually tell them from a Pepo or Moshata in that they have a spongy cork-like stem. Most winter squash are also part of this family. Varieties include Pink Banana, Buttercup, Hubbard and Turban.

Moschata:

Moshatas are excellent keepers. Their flesh is usually orange in color, sweet and refined. They store extremely well and are well suited for a multitude of recipes. Their stems are smooth and have deep ridges. Examples are the Cushaw Green and Gold and Butternut. Their color is usually tan or cream and they are elongated in shape.

Mixta:

Mixtas typically have pale yellow or cream-colored flesh. They are usually not quite as sweet or refined as a Moshata or Maxima. They are often stuffed or baked with brown sugar or maple syrup to complement their flavor. The above descriptions are general and I have found there can be many exceptions. Mixta are also known as argyrosperma.

 

Varieties:

 

There are hundreds of different varieties of pumpkins and squash. I am particularly fond of the old-fashioned heirloom varieites.

 

What is an heirloom?

 

Vintage Heirloom Pumpkin Label


Heirlooms are the varieties that were grown generations ago, many dating back to hundreds of years old. They are open pollinated unlike the new hybrids on the market today. There are organizations who specialize in preserving heirloom seeds for future generations to come. One example is the Queensland Blue which was nearly lost to cultivation. A group of Australian gardeners worked together to bring back this treasured heirloom.

 

Many heirlooms have traits that modern growers saw as flaws. Some varieties are hard to germinate. Some have poor or inconsistent production. Sometimes heirlooms don't have uniform sizes. Modern scientists bred new hybrids specifically looking for high yields, uniformity in size and shape, ability to be bulk harvested, and ability to stand up to handling during transportation.

 

Along the way they lost something very important . . . TASTE!

 

I firmly believe in the importance of preserving these old heirlooms that served us well for generations. Traditions are the foundation of families. I believe it important to honor those farming traditions.

 

Nutrition Facts

Pumpkins are very good for you. They fit well into a health-conscious diet. And aside from that, they taste good!

 

Pumpkins are low in calories but high in fiber. They are also low in sodium. The seeds are high in protein, iron, and the B vitamins.

 

Pumpkins are very high in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxident. It converts into Vitamin A, which is important to maintain a healthy body.

 

Researchers believe that eating a diet rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. They also believe it helps to delay aging.

 

1 cup of cooked pumpkin flesh contains:

Calories 49
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.4 mg
Magnesium 22 mg
Potassium 564 mg

Zinc 1 mg
Selenium .50 mg
Vitamin C 12 mg
Niacin 1 mg
Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU
Vitamin E 3 mg

 

 

 

Squash are usually divided into two different main categories: Winter and Summer.

 

Winter Squash Winter squash develops a thick hard skin. When it reaches maturity it will have a long storage life. It will keep for months (and commonly up to a year) when stored in a cool, dark ventilated place like a cellar; or buried in straw in a shaded barn. I have had good luck storing winter squash on my front porch on an old wooden bench. It is shaded, protected and has good air circulation. It's almost June and I still have butternut squash and a few pumpkins still good enough to eat. It is a great way to have some color during the cold winter months. Their bright colors always make me smile when coming in from a long day in town or in the fields.

Summer Squash In contrast summer squash is harvested and eaten when the skin is thin and tender, and they have a short storage life. (Note: winter squash can be eaten when it is very young and has a thin skin. It has a bland taste, is not sweet and has a short storage life. In most instances winter squash is not harvested until it is mature.). One Happy Family

 

In my experience the words pumpkin, squash and gourd are all used to describe the same fruit. Thoroughly confused? Just know that the words are all used interchangeably.

 

On our farm we use the word pumpkin to describe squash which are suitable for carving like a Jack-o-lantern. Folks who grow giant pumpkins generally refer to orange squash as pumpkins, and green, pink or white squash as squash. Purists will perhaps argue differently, so don't fret about the semantics and call it what you will : -).

 

On our farm we grow over 100 different varieties of pumpkins, winter squash and gourds.

 

Each different variety has its own unique color, shape, culinary and decorative use.

 

Some of my favorites are:

 

Rouge Vif d'Etampes (Cinderella)

 

My very most favorite pumpkin has to be a Cinderella. There is something truly magical about them. As the season progresses they become a very deep red. A French visitor to our farm translated their name "Rouge Vif d' Etampes" to mean roughly translated "Red Life of the Times". What an apt name! As I understand it, the illustrator for the Cinderella Fairytale used this variety of pumpkin for Cinderella's coach. Thus today this pumpkin is more commonly known as a "Cinderella".

One Too Many

La Estrella

 

Musque de Provence (Fairytale)

 

Fairy Tale

 

Jarrahdale

 

Jarrahdale

 

Jack-Be-Little

 

Jack Be Little