I have to tell you – I LOVE pumpkins. The bright orange color lends a cheery pop of color as the world starts to turn brown and grey. What is happier than a pile of pumpkins at the festival, out in the field, or by your own front door? Not much!
Pumpkins are part of the squash family, and are actually native to North America. The oldest seeds were found in Mexico and are dated between 7000 and 5500 BC. Pumpkins are grown across the world – the only continent where they can’t be grown is Antarctica.
All pumpkins are winter crops, meaning that they are ready for harvest when the weather turns cold. Pumpkins are one of the most popular crops in the US, with about 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin grown each year! The top pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, California, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The vast majority of pumpkins grown for processing are grown in Illinois.
Pumpkins are a fairly easy crop to grow, and are bountiful producers. A few pumpkin plants can produce vines up to 30 feet long and up to a dozen pumpkins, although the usual number of pumpkins is between 1 and 5. Pumpkins do require pollination, either by bees or by hand.
Pumpkins vary greatly in size and color, from teeny white Baby Boo pumpkins (OMG CUTE!) to the massive creamy-orange Atlantic Giant pumpkins, weighing several hundred pounds. Pumpkins can also be found in colors fit to match your interior decor – blues, greens, whites, and oranges. Pumpkins can be tall, round, squat, warty or smooth. There are also varieties, like Sugar Pie, that have sweeter flesh and are grown for making pumpkin pie and sweet baked goods.
Pumpkin weighing competitions are fun additions to fall festivals across the nation. The current record-holder for largest pumpkin is held by Ron Wallace of Rhode Island for his 2,009 lb pumpkin he grew in 2012. You can see the behemoth here.
Pumpkin is also one of the favorite fall comfort foods, with pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread and more tasty treats made out of the squash. Pumpkin is also a tasty addition to savory soups, stews, pastas and more. It can be steamed, boiled, baked, roasted, or mashed. Pumpkin blossoms are also consumed in various parts of the world, and are typically stuffed with cheese, herbs and more and either roasted or dipped in batter and fried. Blossoms can also be sauteed or added to soups. Pumpkin seeds are a favorite treat too, after they are cleaned, seasoned and roasted until crunchy.
Like other members of the squash family, pumpkins are a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin is low in fat, carbohydrates and sugar, and high in Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and Vitamin C, and also provides a wide range of other important nutrients. The seeds are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc. So go ahead, have another slice of pumpkin pie!
While pumpkin doesn’t have as wide a use as wheat or corn, they are a harbinger of the fall season, and provide fun family entertainment like pumpkin carving, pumpkin festivals, pumpkin dodgeball (kidding), and more. Also, without pumpkins we would not have the Headless Horseman, Cinderella, or The Great Pumpkin.
In short, seeing orange means good things are on the way – cooler weather, cozy sweaters, wood fires, warm drinks, comfort food, and pumpkin everything!
Info for this article was pulled from the following sources:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpkin