Fall Is Upon Us
It’s time to rake leaves, pick apples, admire the fall foliage, pull out those sweaters and sweats, and commence to carve Jack-O-Lanterns. Pumpkins are popping up all over town. I was at the Kirkwood Farmers’ Market last week. The place looked like a pumpkin museum. I’ve never seen so many colors and varieties.
Which Pumpkins to Pick
I settled on the orange variety because, when it comes to holidays, I’m a boring traditionalist. But I also succumbed to a white (ghost pumpkin), a green one with “warts”, a pale orange, and a gorgeous yellow. But there were also inky black, slate blue, sage green, salmon, and pinkish ones. Some had stripes, knobby bumps, marbling, and speckles.
Carvin’ and Cookin’
Besides giving a facelift to a pumpkin, there’s cooking to be done. These days pumpkin shows up in brownies, pies, pancakes, donuts, breads, muffins, ravioli, and Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte. In the spirit of the season, Ted Drew’s offers a “Great Pumpkin concrete—a piece of pie blended with frozen custard.
I couldn’t resist a few small gourds for table decorations. I’m in good shape for Thanksgiving, though it’s a more than a month away.
10 Things You Might Not Know about Pumpkins
- Nestle’s plant in Illinois produces 85% of the processed pumpkin sold in the world. You’ll recognize it under the well-recognized label: Libby’s.
- Pumpkins are 92% water.
- Pumpkins produce both a male and female flower with fertilization usually performed by bees.
- Canned pumpkin is produced from a strain of Dickinson squash that’s similar to butternut squash.
- The ancient food was used as folk remedies among Native Americans and in traditional Chinese medicine for intestinal and urinary ailments.
- Seeds, pulp, skin and leaves are edible.
- 5 billion pounds of pumpkin were produced in Illinois in 2017.
- The largest pumpkin on record was harvested in 2021 in Italy. It weighed a whopping 2,703 lbs.!!!
- One Illinois pumpkin farmer noted: “The more dramatic they are the better. They should look like Rembrandt painting.” I agree.
- Pumpkin Chunking is the sport of hurling pumpkins by mechanical devices for distance. The devices include slingshots, catapults, and air cannons.
Best Pumpkin Pie
The folks at TheKitchn website made an unofficial test of four popular pumpkin pie recipes: Libby’s back-of-the-can recipe; as well as the versions from such kitchen wizards as Ina Garten, Alton Brown, and Julia Child.
Julia’s soufflé-like recipe laced with molasses, bourbon, and whipped egg whites won the toss.