By Melissa Wynn
The Autumn season is full of fabulous flavors and among the most popular is the plump pumpkin. This versatile member of the squash family comes in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes, offering countless choices to suit your specific recipe or decoration needs.
This is the time of year to visit your local patch to hand pick the perfect pumpkin for your personal project. Whether you are choosing a pumpkin for your Halloween Jack-O-Lantern, Fall decor or cooking purposes your pumpkin patch host is sure to have the know how to point you in the right direction.
Jack-O-Lanterns are such a popular use for pumpkins that there is a variety of the same name, just for that purpose. These hearty pumpkin patch favorites have rigid, straight walls, fibrous flesh that can withstand being carved, and hollow centers perfect for holding candles. While pumpkin carving is a long standing tradition, other fans of the All Hallows Eve holiday prefer to paint their pumpkins.
Orange Smoothie, Cotton Candy, and Lumina are all very popular painters as they have especially smooth skin and shallow ribbing, providing the perfect painters palette.
Autumn bakers are best served by the smooth, sweet meat found in the Sugar Pie variety. These smaller delicious pumpkins are grown specifically for eating and also have a dryer, full interior and thin skin making them an easy pick for a good, dense, flavorful pie. A five pound pumpkin will generally make about two nine inch pies. Pumpkins are high in fiber and rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene making them healthy as well as hearty.
No matter which pumpkin you choose, don’t forget to roast and eat the seeds. Although you can eat the seeds from any pumpkin variety, some seeds are quite large, while others are very small and some have very thick hulls. Several varieties however are especially good for roasted pumpkin seeds including the Kakai variety as it’s seeds are completely hull-less. Just roast, salt and eat, no crack and peel required when choosing this pretty orange and green striped variety.
Although you could easily throw a pumpkin from the market in a shopping cart and call it good, it just wouldn’t be the same. Celebrate this Autumn season with your friends and family with a trip to find the perfect pumpkin at your local pumpkin patch.