Crop Spot: Pumpkins

Each year, I look for the Great Pumpkin at every farm stand, at every grocery store, and in every field. I love to collect different varieties of these joyful gourds. They find their way into recipes and onto my doorstep, and spark so much joy. So what should we know about the Cucurbitaceae family of vegetables?

In the Medicine Cabinet: 

Pumpkins are heavy hitters in fiber and Vitamin A. Fiber is the stuff that makes our digestive system function smoothly, and makes us feel full. Vitamin A helps you see in the dark better, and helps with our immune health. 

In the Garden: 

Pumpkin comes in a huge array of varieties, but there are some that are best for eating. There is the classic edible pie variety, which can be found in groceries as well as farm stands, but see if you can find the Long Island Cheese, which is famed for its flavor, or the blue Jarrahdale, which has a creamy texture. 

To grow your own, pumpkin seeds should be planted in the late Spring or early Summer, with a four week incubation period. They can be harvested in September and October. Pruning your plant of excess fruit buds will create a larger pumpkin in the fall. Make sure to cure your pumpkins by placing them in the sun for about a week after harvesting to ensure a longer shelf life! 

In the Kitchen:

Pumpkins are a great storage vegetable in an unheated basement or garage, especially when placed in a single layer on a porous surface (think cardboard) to help draw away any excess moisture or humidity. Make sure that your stem is intact before attempting to store your pumpkin long-term, and if it isn’t, make plans to add it to your week’s meal plan. An improperly harvested pumpkin will not store long-term.