Ever wonder how pumpkin carving came about? Actually a wave of Irish immigrants brought the concept over in the 1800’s. Originally they used very large turnips, beets or potatoes to carve but soon realized an easier time of it by using pumpkins.
The pumpkin is not a vegetable, but a fruit and was originally grown in Central America. Native Americans used to roast them over an open fire for eating. The original pumpkin pie was actually spices, milk and honey stuffed into a hollowed out pumpkin and baked. Pumpkins go back many centuries, the Greek word for large melon is ‘pepon.’ The French later nasalized that word by saying ‘pompon’ and the English took it to ‘pumpion.’ The Americans’ version evolved into ‘pumpkin.’
Story goes that jack-o-lantern originated in Ireland with a myth about an unsavory character called Stingy Jack who played tricks on everyone–even the devil. When outcast into darkness, he became known as Jack of the Lantern.
Pumpkins are related to melons, squash, zucchini and cucumber. Did you know that the fancy pumpkins, the pale orange, cream and the gray fat and flattened ones are called Fairy Tale squash and are edible as well as stackable? Other varieties for sale by our farmers include the jack-o-lantern, the mini, white Lumina or ghost, Connecticut field, and there might still be a Cinderella or two available.
Stacy Finley, a farmer and vendor at the Coppell Farmers Market, loves this time of year and shared her knowledge. Those fancy pumpkins are edible, but decorate them first as they will last a long time. Then cook them after the holidays and freeze them or give them to a soup kitchen, but please don’t dispose of the abundant batch harvest. Remember to ask if you need cooking tips.