It's Fall, Y'All! The season for everyone's favorite...Pumpkins! Native to North America, pumpkins are a type of winter squash, genus Cucurbita, that are a category all their own, species pepo or maxima (this species is for the really big pumpkins). At this time of year, the market is filled with many different types of pumpkins besides the basic orange globe. If you see an unusual one at your market, try it for a different look in your fall decorations or as a completely different culinary taste treat. By the way, did you know pumpkins are technically a fruit, not a vegetable? Enjoy your exploration!
SUGAR or PIE PUMPKINS
Looking for pumpkins that are petite, round and have a sweeter flesh, perfect for pie making? Try Hijinks and Baby Bear both All-America Selections Winners. These pumpkins are petite and round and have a sweeter flesh, perfect for pie making and baking. Their smaller size makes them the go-to choice for younger children when pumpkin picking because they are "Just my size!"
ROUGE VIF D'ETAMPES (Cinderella) PUMPKINS
Cinderella's Carriage is a recent All-America Selections Winner and was hybridized from the French heirloom Cinderella that dates back to the 1800s. The flesh is dense, mildly sweet (good for use in pies and soups) and the shape is said to have inspired the pumpkin shaped coach in the fairy tale of the same name.
MINIATURE or BABY PUMPKINS
Wee-B-Little is another All-America Selections Winner. Munchkin is a shorter, Cinderella shaped miniature pumpkin, both of which are great to display in multiples for fall decorations. Miniature pumpkins are easy to grow and quite productive, usually producing about a dozen fruits per plant.
This lovely, decorative pumpkin with stunning blue-green skin is an heirloom from New Zealand. It's a medium-sized fruit with mild, sweet aromatic golden-yellow flesh.
Don't be put off by the look! Those warty-looking growths are actually sugar secretions over a light pink skin which mean this type of pumpkin has one of the sweetest non-fibrous flesh of all pumpkins so it produces a smooth, creamy and deliciously delicate and fluffy puree. Galeux d’Eysines is one variety to try.
Every year, it seems that new novelty pumpkins can be found in the market. This year, you'll find two new AAS Winners to add to the list: Pepitas Pumpkin and Super Moon. Pepitas pumpkins are a decorative orange and green and named for its hulless or naked seeds (pepitas) that lack the tough outer hull making them easy to eat after slow-roasting. Super Moon, a new white pumpkin on the market, can grow up to 50 lbs (Cucurbita maxima as referenced above!)! So when you are at a Farmer's Market, or looking at growing some for your garden for next year put some of these on your list. Till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa