Saturday, October 16, 2010
This is the question of the day. It just seemed like a good idea. It lends itself to both savory and sweet dishes, most people like it and it's available all year around. Ah, scratch that last reason - actually 80% of the fresh American pumpkin supply is available in October. But it cans and freezes well and I'm told you can store it for up to six months in a cool spot. There are dozens of varieties, some better for cooking than others. I hope over the next year to explore recipes using pumpkin - the flesh and the seeds - because it is so good for us. Not only is pumpkin loaded with vitamin A and alpha and beta-carotenes, it’s a good source of vitamins C, K, and E, and lots of minerals.
My assistant (the Hub) and I have been combing farmers markets, grocery stores and local pumpkin patches armed with photos from the internet for different varieties. There's a learning curve here, and we've picked up three termed "ornamental gourds" by mistake. The farmer's market people are the most knowledgeable and generous - one farmer gave me a 15 lb French red pumpkin he had accidentally dropped and cracked. Our own Burke Nursery Pumpkin Patch has a great store section, which sells many types of pumpkins. The displays are clearly marked with the variety's name, which was very helpful. (Unfortunately we stopped there after purchasing our ornamental gourds.)
But don't think we'll only be using fresh pumpkin in the recipes. Clearly we are a country of only two forms of pumpkin - squeezed into a can or carved out as a jack-o-lantern. I plan on taking advantage of the fact that Libby (and others) have conveniently pureed and canned it for me. In fact, I might have a taste test or two later on to see if anyone can even tell the difference between canned and fresh pumpkin puree in certain recipes. Soups and baked goods usually call for pureed, but many stews and vegetable side dishes call for cubed pumpkin.
This should be fun. I've got plenty of volunteer tasters and a garage full of pumpkins so let The Pumpkin Project begin.