Pumpkins & Squash For Pies & Baking
The oldest evidence of pumpkin-related seeds, dating to before 5,500 BC, were found in Mexico. This squash-like fruit can range in size from 1 to 1,000 pounds.
Cinderella Pumpkins are a unique French heirloom. They resemble the pumpkin that Cinderella’s fairy godmother transformed into a carriage. This pumpkin is recorded as possibly being the variety cultivated by the Pilgrims, and served at the second Thanksgiving dinner. Cinderellas make a delightful decorative accent for the fall season, and their flavor is good for any pie or winter squash recipe.
Sugar Pies are the modern baking pumpkin. If you want to bake pies, and want a pumpkin instead of squash, this is the pumpkin for you! The skin is very thin, the flesh is sweeter and substantially finer-grained than a jack-o’-lantern type pumpkin (which were bred for thick rinds and stability when carved). It is also quite dry which makes for a more stable pie. You’ll be delighted with the results.
Kabocha is a Japanese variety of winter squash with many varieties. They are all excellent used in soups, stews, and pies. They have a very firm dry flesh and lend themselves well to savory dishes. It can be baked, steamed, stuffed, or pureed. Works well as a substitution in recipes that call for pumpkin or sweet potatoes.
Also known as the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, this squash is squat and round like a wheel of cheese. They have very sweet flesh and are excellent in pies.
Acorn squash have an orange-yellow flesh. The flavor is sweet and nutty with a smooth texture. For best sweetness, wait at least 2 weeks after harvest before eating. Bake until soft, flip over, and fill the center with butter, brown sugar, and/or maple syrup.
(Blue, Golden, Green, or Gray) Large and bumpy like a misshapen teardrop, this squash is notable for its wart-covered exterior and its peach-colored flesh. The flesh is moist but is best prepared boiled or baked, and then pureed.
It tastes as good as it looks! It will store for several months and still maintain an excellent eating quality. Their flavor is somewhere between an Acorn and a Delicata. This squash is also excellent stuffed. Other good choices as stand-alone dishes or for stuffing are: Sugar Loaf, Sweet Dumpling, Acorn, and Butternut.
TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
You can eat the seeds from any pumpkin variety. Some seeds are quite large, and others are very small. Some have really thick hulls. There are some varieties, however, that are especially good for toasted pumpkin seeds. Kakai seeds are completely hull-less. How cool is that?!
1. Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings. (This is easiest just after you’ve removed the seeds from the pumpkin, before the pulp has dried.)
2. Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat. If you prefer, omit the oil and coat with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325˚ F until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes.
4. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.