- Pumpkins belong to the Melon (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
- 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:
- This group of primarily squash includes the pumpkins frequently used for commercially canned pumpkins.
- Commercial pumpkin varieties usually have a tan-coloured skin.
- 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
- 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.