Pumpkins are a favorite part of fall. They are part of our history, myth, and folklore. They are used in many holiday recipes, and are nutritious as well. Pumpkins make wonderful decorations that welcome visitors to our homes. Pumpkins are so versatile they serve many purposes.
Thanksgiving in the New World is a time to give our thanks and to celebrate the season-of-plenty with feasts fit for a king. Thanksgiving tables are filled with the fruits of fall: apples, grapes, and pumpkin. There are many wonderful pumpkin recipes and treats besides the traditional pumpkin pie. There is pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup, and even pumpkin scones.
Halloween is a time when the folklore of the jack-o’-lantern is brought to light. Eerie faces, happy faces, scary faces, and funny faces are carved into pumpkins and lit from within with candles. These jack-o’-lanterns are set out to keep the ghosts of All Hallows’ Eve on October 31st away. This tradition came from Ireland to North America. Jack made a deal with devil and then tricked him and so was denied entrance into heaven or hell. He was given an ember to light his way into eternal darkness. In Ireland this ember was carried in a carved out turnip on All Hallows’ Eve. In America this turnip was replaced by our season-of-bounty fruit: the pumpkin.
Pumpkins also make great fall decorations. Pumpkins and gourds are gathered to show the signs of bounty in the fall and displayed on porches everywhere. Pumpkins can also be used as wonderful fall table decorations as well as cut and hallowed out to make beautiful sconces. A pineapple shaped pumpkin can be carved to look like a pineapple and lit from within as a sign of welcome for guests.
Pumpkins are classified as a fruit but they are commonly used as a vegetable in cooking. Whether you decide to try your hand at using fresh pumpkin for your recipes or buy canned pumpkin, you will not be disappointed with the result of pumpkin recipes. Choosing pumpkins for cooking is easy. Choose varieties such as New England Pie, Small Sugar, Mystic, or Baby Pam. The goal is to choose varieties that are heavy for their size therefor providing more flesh. These varieties are also much more flavorful than the typical varieties used for carving.