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Pumpkin From A To Z: 26 Interesting Things To Know About Pumpkins

Pumpkin From A To Z: 26 Interesting Things To Know About Pumpkins

All about pumpkins: history, recipes and many more oddities. Find out more about the one of fall's most famous ingredients,

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As its name suggests, the Acorn squash is one of the smaller varieties, shaped like an acorn. Native to Central and North America, it was one of the foods first introduced to European settlers by the Native Americans.

Beta carotene
All varieties of winter squash are an excellent source of beta carotene, an anti-oxidant that protects the body from free radicals and enhances the immune system. And the beta carotene content of squash increases with storage.

Charlie Brown
The beloved holiday special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown first aired on October 27th, 1966, and has been aired annually ever since. It’s become such a well-known feature of popular culture that another animated show, the Simpsons, did a parody of it, called It’s the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse.

The sweet dumpling squash is so sweet that it can simply baked whole in the oven, topped with butter and cinnamon and eaten as a delicious dessert.

Just about all parts of the squash can be eaten. Along with the flesh, of course, you can also eat the seeds, leaves, tendrils, shoots and flowers.

While in terms of cooking, squash is treated like a vegetable, botanically speaking it’s a fruit, as it’s a receptacle for the plant’s seeds.

Squash belong to the vast family of gourds, many of which are decorative and inedible. The expression «he’s out of his gourd» is a way of saying someone’s crazy. Italians have a similar way of describing someone not quite right in the head as «out of his pumpkin».

The holiday of Halloween and the pumpkin squash are, by now, inextricably linked. The tradition of carving ghoulish faces is pagan and Celtic in origin (see letter “J”) and at the time, it was more common to use turnips instead of pumpkins.

The English word "squash" derives from the Narragansett Indian word, “askutasquash”, (roughly translated to mean «a green thing eaten raw») which was documented by Roger Williams, who founded the state of Rhode Island, in his 1643 publication A Key Into the Language of America.

Jack O’Lantern
The name given to carved pumpkins with lighted candles inside, displayed on our around “Halloween”, or All Hallow’s Eve, the last night of October. The Jack O’ Lantern comes from an ancient Celtic tradition, by which these frightful-faced pumpkins were supposed to ward off Jack O’ Lantern, a wayward soul condemned by the devil to walk the earth for all eternity.

Kabocha squash
Otherwise known as “Japanese pumpkin”, it’s popular for its strong yet sweet flavor and moist, fluffy texture, which is like chestnuts. In some cultures, it is considered to be an aphrodisiac!

While the leaves of many winter squash are tough and even prickly, they are edible and nutritious. Pumpkin leaves, for example, can be tossed into a soup as an herb, or fried until they turn bright green and eaten hot.

By the year 5,000 BC Mesoamericans had already begun cultivating and domesticating squash as a crop, even before maize. The seeds were full of protein and the food was easily transportable, making it perfect for trade.

Norfolk County, Canada
Is where the biggest squash in the world was grown and presented at the 2011 county fair. It weighs 1,486 pounds and was grown by professional horticulturalist Joel Jarvis.

Ornamental squash
Or gourds, can come in all kinds of bizarre shapes, sizes and colours. While some of them are edible, these hard-skinned fruits – many with mottled skin and elongated shapes are most commonly used for their utilitarian or decorative purposes rather than food. After being dried, they will last forever.

Petit Pan or Pattypan squash
It's a summer squash, notable for its small, flattened shape – similar to toy top or a flying saucer – with scalloped edges. They are one of the easiest squash varieties to grow and, when harvested very young, as “baby squash” are even delicious eaten raw, or delicious when pickled.

Many kinds of squash – from butternut to zucchini to yellow to pumpkin – are great as an ingredient for quiche recipes. Some classic pairings are zucchini squash and bacon, butternut squash and leeks, yellow squash and goat cheese.

Racquet sport
“Squash” is also the name of a popular racquet sport, played on an indoor court with a soft, squishy, or “squashy” ball.

Spaghetti squash
When raw, the flesh of spaghetti is solid and similar to other squash, but once cooked it falls away in long strands, like noodles or spaghetti, and is delicious when eaten with pasta sauce or butter and salt. It’s popular among low-carb dieters as a pasta substitute.

Three Sisters
Along with corn (maize) and beans, squash is one of the so-called “Three Sisters”, which refers to the three main native crops indigenous to North America, and which benefit from being planted together.

Hard shelled-gourds have been cultivated for thousands of years, to be crafted into a wide range of useful and beautiful objects. Because a gourd shell is waterproof, it is a more energy efficient way to create a water-tight vessel than almost any other, and the variety of shapes make them perfect for use as bowls, bottles, containers, drums, and gorgeous works of art to sell or trade. Mother Nature has already done most of the work for you!

In North America, squash is loosely grouped into summer squash or winter squash, depending on whether they are harvested as immature fruit (summer squash) or mature fruit (autumn squash or winter squash).

The first U.S. President, George Washington, loved to grow squash, as did Thomas Jefferson.

Xtreme dessert
Chicago’s famed restaurant, Alinea, considered by many to be the best in North America, features a dessert called the “chocolate, pumpkin pie” that is like no other dessert in the world. Don’t believe us? Have a watch here.

Yellow squash
It’s a summer squash – delicious, healthy and versatile – but not nearly as popular as it’s cousin, the zucchini. In fact, there is a Facebook page dedicated to the sad plight of the yellow squash, called Feeling Bad Because Yellow Squash isn’t as Popular or Tasty as Zucchini. We can’t tell if it’s ironic, but we “like” it.

Probably the most popular and widespread member of the squash family, the zucchini (also known as courgette) is also a popular ingredients in sweets like zucchini bread and zucchini muffins.

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