Yes, we know everything goes all-out pumpkin in October: coffees, cookies, ice creams, sauces, cupcakes, breads, chips and dips and even tea. Yes, pumpkin tea. So, rest assured that when you stroll our Market District aisles you will get your autumn’s appetite worth of pumpkin, from Jack-o'-lanterns to carve and sugar pumpkins to bake, to all the many delicious treats our Bakers scare up for the season (we’ll get you GOBlin’).
That said, we thought you’d enjoy a little less obvious exploration into the pumpkin oeuvre by including some delicious outsider information — patching things up, so to speak. The first fruit of our labors:
Pumpkin Origins & Classification
Pumpkins are native to North America and are one of the oldest domesticated plants. They are technically a variety of squash and belong to the gourd family alongside cucumbers, melons and squash. The word “pumpkin” developed over time from the Greek word “pepon” or “large melon.” And since pumpkins contain seeds, they are a fruit. And here we thought tomatoes were the only fruits masquerading as vegetables!
Jack Be Nimble
Sans pumpkin pies, the Jack-o'-lantern is the creation most closely associated with pumpkins. But, Jack-o’lanterns did not start out as pumpkins (here’s where it gets interesting). In 19th century Ireland they were carved from radishes and turnips to ward off “Stingy Jack,” the star of an Irish legend about a man doomed by Satan to roam the earth with a hollowed-out turnip lantern (that’s a terrible fate, even for whatever jack did). Once the tradition came to North America, pumpkins were found to be much easier to carve (really?) and the Jack-o'-lanterns we know and love were born — much to Stingy Jack’s dismay.
So much want to see someone caving a turnip with a pumpkin ale at hand …
Not Just ANY Pumpkin
It’s just like Christmas trees; everyone’s got a say in the picking. Size, shape, stem, color. But here’s a couple rules to go by. Flat. It is so much easier to show off your stuff when the bottom of your lantern does not roll. A nice stem is also handy, sturdy enough to lift again and again and again (depending on how long you want to draw out the hallowed holiday). Also, lighter-colored pumpkins are usually easier to carve because they have thinner skin, but (there’s always a “but”) they won’t last as long or be quite as strikingly pumpkin. Tip? To make your pumpkin last even longer, line the insides with petroleum jelly after carving. It’s gooey and maybe a little too invested, but it works.
The Great Pumpkin Fallacy
Ready? Pumpkin Spice does not actually contain any pumpkin! There, we said it. It’s actually a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves and no pumpkin whatsoever. Mixed together, these spices mimic the smell and taste pumpkin pie, making it a staple for autumn recipes (perhaps a few too many) since the 1700s. Of course, you can buy pumpkin pie spice, but you can also make you own at home with this super simple recipe:
Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 3 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. ground allspice (optional)
Feel free to adjust the spice ratio according to your taste, but be sure to store in an airtight container before and after each use — no matter how many times you use it.
Fun, Unlikely Pumpkin Recipes