Market Notes: Pumpkins

Folks who make their pumpkin pie from scratch — from real pumpkins — swear by the flavor, quality, and texture of the finished product. It’s an easy and worthwhile step to roast or steam your pumpkin. These folks also develop firm allegiances to particular pumpkins. The three most popular pie pumpkins, Long Island Cheese, Maine Long Pie Pumpkin, and Sugar Pie will all be for sale at the on Saturday, November 17th at the Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford.

The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, an heirloom variety, has pale bronze skin and a squat ribbed shape, resembling a giant wheel of cheese. They are very sweet with smooth, dense flesh that isn’t stringy, making for an exceptionally creamy, delicious pie.

The Maine Long Pie Pumpkin, also an heirloom variety and featured in Slow Food’s Renewing America’s Food Traditions project, is picked green and then ripens to orange. Because of their long, tubular shape, they are very easy to peel and prepare. The flavor is intensely pumpkin, the flesh stringless, and pies made from it are swooned over! This pumpkin works really well in any recipe calling for canned pumpkin.

The Sugar Pie Pumpkin is the classic pie pumpkin, shaped just like a small orange pumpkin. They are thin skinned, sweet, with bright orange, dry flesh, a desired quality for firmly set pies. These pumpkins are widely available.

To prepare whole pumpkins for pies, you first need to cook them. Pumpkins can be either baked or steamed. To bake, cut the pumpkin in half or pieces, remove the seeds, cover with foil and bake at 375 for 1 1/2 hours or until tender when poked with a knife. Allow to cool, then scoop out flesh. To steam, peel pumpkin and cut into chunks, set aside seeds for roasting. Place in a saucepan with 1-2” of water. Steam over high heat until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, allow to cool, then mash with a potato masher. Your pumpkin is now ready for your favorite pie recipe!

Not just for pies, pumpkin is a versatile winter squash, eaten around the world in savory stews and soups. Try Moroccan-Style Pumpkin, Afghan-Style Pumpkin with Yogurt Sauce, Meatless Monday Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce, or any number of these pumpkin and winter squash recipes we’ve collected for you!

Heron Pond Farm, Hollister Family Farm, Red Manse Farm, Brookford Farm, Stout Oak Farm, and White Gate Farm will all be bringing our featured vegetable, pumpkins, to our Winter Farmers’ Market, November 17th — make sure to pick up some for your holiday pies!

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