Outside Scoop: Squash Time | VailDaily.com

Outside Scoop: Squash Time

Did you know pumpkins were once considered a remedy for freckles and snakebites?

Julie Bielenberg
Outside Scoop
Pumpkins come in many colors, including yellow, white and even a purplish-blue hue.
Ira Mint/Unsplash

If you haven’t noticed the most famous of squash becoming more prevalent in grocery store isles, candied selections, pie and coffee-spiced flavorings, then you have been hiding under the rug.

It’s officially October and autumn and that means pumpkins. What exactly is the large, smooth, orange-colored squash that is now the official symbol of Halloween?

Actually, pumpkins come in many colors, including yellow, white and even a purplish-blue hue. A pumpkin is a type of winter squash that contains seeds and pulp. Most pumpkins are native to North America and parts of northeastern Mexico, and historically, cultures have thought they were originally from Central America.

Here, in Colorado and the Vail Valley, we have excellent conditions in many areas to grow tremendous pumpkins. We also have great opportunity to visit squash farms throughout the region with hay mazes, you-pick-it gardens, and many pumpkin-themed activities.

Pumpkins are one of the oldest domesticated plants — plants used for eating, and often, easy to grow. They have been used in holidays throughout America and Canada for generations. A pumpkin carved with a face —scary or sweet — is called a jack-o-lantern and usually has a candle or light placed inside of the hollow body to make it light up come evening. In Canada and America, a pumpkin pie is a typical dessert for Thanksgiving. And, try skimming the seeds out of the pulp, washing them and then dusting them with olive oil and salt while roasting. It’s a nutritious and savory snack.

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However, did you know that India and China now grow half of the world’s population of pumpkins? It’s a global fruit now, and Russia and Ukraine have started producing significant amounts of pumpkin as well.

Wait, squash is a fruit and not a vegetable? Fruits will contain seeds and develop from the flowers of a plant, as does a squash. Have you ever eaten stuffed squash blossoms before? They are delicious. But remember, a vegetable is the part of a plant that is the root, stem or leaf, none of those are a squash!

A squash is typically prepared like a vegetable since they are rarely eaten raw, with the exception of yellow and green zucchini. These are considered summer squash and can be eaten fresh when sliced.

Pumpkin Facts

Pumpkin is loaded with nutrition. It is an excellent source of provitamin A beta-carotene and vitamin A and also includes Vitamin C. A pumpkin is also over 90% water.

What other fruits sometimes get confused for vegetables like squash?

Avocado, cucumber, eggplant, tomato

What are the top pumpkin-growing states?

California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the ‘Pumpkin Capital of the World’ is Morton, Illinois.


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