Know your Pumpkins

Know your Pumpkins - Introduction

  • Pumpkins belong to the Marrow (Curcurbita) family. 
  • They are typically orange or yellow and have many creases running from the stem to the bottom. 
  • They have a thick shell on the outside, with seeds and pulp on the inside.

    Know your Pumpkins - Botany

    Female pumpkin flower
    • Pumpkins generally weigh 9–18 lbs (4–8 kg) with the largest (of the species C. maxima) capable of reaching a weight of over 75 lbs (34 kg).
    • The pumpkin varies greatly in shape, ranging from oblate to oblong. 
    • The rind is smooth and usually lightly ribbed.
    • Although pumpkins are usually orange or yellow, some fruits are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and grey.
    • Pumpkins are monoecious, having both male and female flowers on the same plant. 
    • The female flower is distinguished by the small ovary at the base of the petals. 
    • These bright and colourful flowers have extremely short life spans and may only open for as short a time as one day. 
    • The colour of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. 
    • The main nutrients are lutein and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body.

    Know your Pumpkins - Varieties

    • There are a wide range of varieties falling into these categories:

      Cucurbita Moschata

      • This group of primarily squash includes the pumpkins frequently used for commercially canned pumpkins. 
      • Commercial pumpkin varieties usually have a tan-coloured skin.

      Cucurbita Pepo

      • These are the Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins you carve on Halloween, as well as the cute little miniature pumpkins that fit in the palm of your hand. 
      • The traditional Jack O'Lantern is a particular variety officially known as the Connecticut Field Pumpkin.
      • Some of the most popular varieties include:
        • Connecticut Field pumpkin
        • Howden pumpkin
        • Howden Biggie
        • Jack B. Little Miniature pumpkins

      Cucurbita Maxima

      • Maxima, as it's name implies, are the giant pumpkins. 
      • Giant pumpkin growing has become a very popular hobby. 
      • Giant pumpkin growers are among the most devoted, and perhaps fanatical of gardeners. 
      • The uniqueness of this variety lies in its production of fruits more massive than those produced by any other plant in the world. 
      • Fruit can exceed 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter. 
      • The heaviest Atlantic Giant on record weighed 1,810.5 pounds (821.2 kg) and was grown in Wisconsin in 2010.
      • Popular giant pumpkin varieties include:
        • Atlantic Giant pumpkin
        • Big Max pumpkins

      Know your Pumpkins - Cuisine

      • Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking. 
      • Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and even the flowers. 
      • In the United States, pumpkin is a very popular Halloween and Thanksgiving staple. 
      • Although most people use store-bought canned pumpkin, homemade pumpkin purée can serve the same purpose.