My favorite new discovery at our local farmer’s market is the magnificent collection of winter squashes and pumpkins grown by Anne and her husband, Chris of C & A Organic Farms, here in Mendocino County in Northern California. Anne has a deep passion for these varieties and is a wealth of information, which she most generously passed along to me, and thus to all of you. This two-part post will undoubtedly serve as a resource to many who have an interest in adding more pumpkins and squashes to their gardens next year! This foray into her world has certainly educated me and I am most grateful!
These organic Baby Pam Pumpkins are the ones we reach for at this time of year to make our delicious pumpkin pies. Its stringless flesh cooks down to a smooth filling and its sugary flavor makes it the preferred choice. I think most folks would have access to these in your local farmer’s markets and health food stores, and possibly even in your local supermarkets (though maybe not organic–always better).
Organic Jack Be Little Pumpkins (also called Little Jacks) are the small pumpkins we buy for decorating. Children find them especially endearing. They are about 2″ high and only 3″ wide. You see them in all the markets in October, I’m sure and are one of everybody’s favorite for decorations.
The organic Cinderella Pumpkin is a French heirloom variety, known in French as “Rouge vif D’Etampes”. It is hard not to notice that their beautiful shape does, in fact, resemble the carriage Cinderella’s fairygodmother created from a pumpkin! Best of all, this pumpkin is recorded as having been the variety cultivated by the Pilgrims and served at the second Thanksgiving dinner. (I love this!) These flattened fruits weigh an average of 15-20 pounds. Their deep orange flesh and strong sweet flavor lends to using in winter soups to brighten and enrich cold winter days.
This heirloom organic New England Pie Pumpkin variety remains the favored pie pumpkin in many homes. Its stringless flesh cooks down into a thicker pumpkin filling, making it very desirable for pies. Pumpkins are usually 4-6 pounds.
While these hard-skinned blue-grey are called organic Crown Pumpkins, they are, in fact a delicious eating winter squash. I include here due to their name. Reputedly Organic Crown Pumpkins were part of the Koanga Gardens collection in New Zealand, and they do continue to make these seeds available. It’s known as an excellent keeper, and Anne shares it’s one of her favorites this year. I made a soup from one of these and it was delicious, so I’d have to say it’s one of my faves this year, too. And as someone who has searched for the “perfect pumpkin soup recipe” for years, I’ve come to realize that the secret is in your pumpkin choice, not the recipe itself. Who knew?
The Japanese organic Black Futsu is an heirloom variety. These small pumpkins have heavy ribs, a warty texture and average 4-6 lbs. The outer skin remains dark green or black until ripe and then become a muted chestnut color with a powdery appearance in storage. Texture is firm and flavor is nutty and fresh. Each plant will produce 3-5 pumpkins. This is a pumpkin you can grow in large containers, making it a good choice for those with limited space!
Anne has kindly sent along this simple recipe:
Cut pumpkin in half, place face down in baking dish. Add a bit of water and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Add seasonings to taste. Delicious!
Yes, hull-less seeds. The organic Kakai Pumpkin produces hull-less seeds, perfect for snacking! Kakai seeds are highly nutritious and yield a valuable oil that is used to promote prostate health in men. This Japanese pumpkin bears orange and green striped markings and large raised ribs. Medium sized fruits average 5-8 lbs. Plants yield 2-3 fruits per plant, even in poor conditions. It’s a beauty!
lovely market display
Dearest readers, I hope this post has inspired you to try more varieties of pumpkins this year–to seek them out and use them and learn which ones you prefer and for what. There’s a vast array and exploring these delicious nutritious gifts is a treasure! I’m grateful to Anne for expanding my knowledge.
Last word! Don’t forget that our dogs adore fresh cooked pumpkins! I have a big bowl set aside in the frig and my Border Collies really appreciate my adding it to their morning rice and protein breakfasts!
Love and season blessings,
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Posted on September 26th, 2012 by Kathryn
Filed under: Plants