Pumpkin is a wonderfully versatile squash that is practically the essence of autumn. It is one of the oldest known vegetables to be cultivated by humans for nutritional and aesthetic value. Easy to grow, a small pumpkin patch provides enough fruit for an entire family. Pumpkins are easy to grow with minimal care.
They grow in many different shapes and colours; from white or light yellow to deep orange. There are varieties for the biggest jack-o’-lanterns and miniatures referred to as gourd pumpkins. The entire fruit is edible including the seeds and pulp. And, they are full of vitamins and minerals but especially beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant.
Pumpkins should be elevated from the soil to keep the shell intact until it has fully ripened. Use a small board or some stones to separate the fruit from moisture in the soil. This will ensure they grow into perfect specimens without a soggy spot. Protect young pumpkins by using companion plants in the same row, such as oregano and nasturtium flowers to repel bugs.
Pumpkins are served in a variety of ways from dessert dishes to savoury entrées. Pumpkin pie is one of the most popular ways to use it fresh or canned. Of course, the pumpkin spice latte has become the queen of espresso treats and the first choice for an autumn warm-up. Let’s not forget soup, tempura, custards, and snacks that use the seeds. The list is endless!
Stuffed sugar pumpkins
Sugar pumpkins are a fun and easy way to make hot nutritious meals in the oven. Use the pumpkin as the baking container and as the vegetable side dish. There are innumerable recipes for stuffed pumpkins. Try this one for a wholesome and easy-to-make meal on a cold night.
Begin with a small pumpkin about eight inches in diameter; remove the seeds and membrane. You’ll need hard-stale bread or croutons; any two complimentary cheeses, cubed, and light cream. Mix with thyme, chives, and salt & pepper to taste then stuff the pumpkin with the dry ingredients and pour the cream over the mixture. Put the pumpkin lid back on and bake in a medium oven for 90 minutes. To serve, cut it into quarters and plate with the stuffing side up. Serve with a salad or soup on the side. It’s hot, gooey, and oh so good.