Valley Bounty: Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin puree, long a staple of New England bakeries and kitchens around the time the leaves start to change, is often not quite as straightforward as one might assume; it is often made from a variety of squashes blended together, including what we usually think of as pumpkin (cultivars of Cucurbita pepo) as well as squashes like butternut, Hubbard, Golden Delicious, and more. The FDA actually specifically allows this—the relevant regulation reads, “[i]n the labeling of articles prepared from golden-fleshed, sweet squash or mixtures of such squash and field pumpkin, we will consider the designation ‘pumpkin’”. In one sense, this isn’t quite as misleading as it sounds—“pumpkin” doesn’t have any fixed botanical meaning and is used to refer to different groups of squashes in different English-speaking regions of the world.

If you want to be sure that the gourd in your mind is the one in your pie, pick up a sugar pumpkin (those are the smaller ones with sweeter flesh) at a farmers’ market or farm stand. Split, seed, and roast it until the flesh is soft, then puree in a food processor or mash by hand for a local, DYI version of a harvesttime staple.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)