The Pumpkin Color Spectrum
Last week, you learned about the Flyover connection to pumpkins, so this week we’ll turn our attentions to different kinds and colors of pumpkins. Although pumpkins are a type of winter squash, I’ll keep this week to the Non-Orange Ones We Actually Call Pumpkins (I’ll examine non-pumpkin winter squashes some other time). Most of us may be familiar with the traditional orange-skinned varieties, the stuff of Jack-O-Lanterns and pies; however, pumpkins can be found in other colors as well, particularly green, red, white, and blue. A look at my local Hoosier farmers market yielded pumpkins in an array of colors. Why not see what’s available at your local market?
You may have seen green pumpkins adorning front porches as part of an autumnal tableau. Those are likely immature or unripe orange pumpkins. They certainly add a nice color accent to seasonal décor but, given that they are not ripe, shouldn’t be used for eating.
A rarity no more, white pumpkins, such as the Lumina, Casper, or Cotton Candy varieties, have an other-worldly look to them. These ghostly gourds are quite cook-able. However, their flesh is light-colored, so this is not the one to pick if you are looking for the traditional deeply orange pie. Best to leave this one for recipes like muffins or pumpkin bread. You can also use the light chunks in a richly spiced pumpkin curry.
Well, red-orange. The gorgeously saturated Rouge vif d’Etampes pumpkin (a favorite of French cooks) has a squat shape, akin to the carriage that Cinderella (of fairy tale fame) would have ridden in. In fact, the other name for this variety IS Cinderella pumpkin. It’s of the Cucurbita maxima species (like buttercup squash). Because it’s called a pumpkin, I’m including it in this post and not a winter squash post.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see these at my local farmers market this year (it was a very cool summer). Better luck next year!
I’ll have a Bloooo Halloween without you…sorry about that. But yes, Virginia, there IS a blue pumpkin (wrong holiday, I know). In fact, there are several varieties of them. The one shown here is the Jarrahdale pumpkin, an heirloom from Australia. Shaped like a drum, this ribbed pumpkin feels very heavy for its size, with dense, sweet flesh. It is said to be an excellent variety for pies.
The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, a beige variety, is also known for being an excellent choice for pie baking. Popular in Long Island (surprise, surprise), the name “Cheese Pumpkin” is owed to its appearing like a wheel of cheese. Although noted for pies, the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin is equally at home in a soup. Cheese pumpkins are of the Cucurbita moschata species, which differs from the Cucurbito pepo of your more common orange pumpkins. Other moschata varieties include crookneck or neck pumpkin (elongated and curved) as well as zucchini, butternut squash, and acorn squash. I’m including the cheese pumpkin here because it is called “pumpkin”.