On The Farm

Fall Pumpkins for the Kitchen

One of my favorite Fall harvest scenes is taking shape.

During the Summer growing season, dense pumpkin vines cover the ground, and their wide leaves hide everything growing beneath them from view. As we head into Fall, the vines have begun to die back, revealing a beautiful display of colors, shapes and sizes of the Kentucky Field Pumpkin.

There are a number of strains of this variety, ranging from large, flat-ribbed types to oblong shaped pumpkins.

The colors of these pumpkins range from tan to orange/tan, and they were commonly grown in cornfields in former times. Kentucky Field Pumpkins were, and still are, highly prized for there culinary uses, the most common use being for the making of pumpkin pies.

Our ancestors, however, depended on pumpkins for far more than pies. Pumpkin was often fired, stewed, used in soups, mashed and baked with brown sugar, and the pumpkin itself filled with corn, meat, onions, and other ingredients and baked to make a type of soup.

The field pumpkins were also used as feed for pigs and cows, and as a child I recall piles of pumpkins being loaded onto mule-drawn wagons and taken to the barns for Winter storage.

One of the good qualities of the Kentucky Field Pumpkin is that they are excellent keepers. It is not uncommon to see a good number of these pumpkins keep for well over a year.

The most common pumpkins found at Fall produce markets are the Connecticut Field types, which are orange in color. These types are most commonly used for Fall decorations. When placed on front porches in October, they are usually reduced to piles of mush by November.

As far as culinary purposes are concerned, these pumpkins are stringy, watery, and lacking in flavor. Given the choice, pigs would choose the Kentucky Field Pumpkins.

Going back in time, 100 to 150 years ago, pumpkins were cut in spiral rings and placed on sticks which were hung on the rafters to dry. As needed, the pumpkin rings would be cut into pieces, soaked in water overnight, then used as the recipe called for.

Today we are renewing a number of our ancestors’ old recipes, and here at Blackberry Farm, our chefs are coming up with their own unique creations, making use of old varieties and old ways to inspire limitless possibilities for our guests to enjoy during their stay at the Farm.

John Coykendall, Master Gardener
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