The Great Pompion Research Project!

Or at least that's what it seemed to be like. 

Once I had the collection of "Decorative Gourds" (which was what the sign said above the crate that housed them) I then had to take on the task of figuring out what I had exactly and what would be the best way to cook each of them.  This project has made me realize my complete lack of common knowledge about cooking pumpkins, or knowing what each type is just by looking at them.  And this probably was common knowledge for any housewife even one hundred years ago. 

So below I have a picture of each type, along with what I believe it is and what is the best way to cook it.  Now, if for some reason there is a pumpkin I list wrong and you know the right answer, please let me know!  I'm not going to be offended.  I'll actually be very appreciative, since the shear amount of "medium-sized round green pumpkins" is astounding. 

So here they are!

Pumpkin #1: Acorn Squash

This one wasn't much of a mystery.  Having not only seen them often in the grocery store growing up, as well as growing my own as a Pilgrim, there is no denying the familiar shape and color. 

This variety is thousands of years old, and originated in Central America.  It has a mild and sweet flavor that is very pleasing when roasted.  And roasting it in the shell is the most common way to eat it, since the skin is very tough and can withstand the cooking process without losing its shape.  Which also makes it a good candidate for a stuffed pumpkin receipt!

Pumpkin #2- Delicatta Squash

Now, honestly, I've never even seen this type before.  But I found it at my old CSA farm-stand and was intrigued.  So I picked up two to try out!

This thin skinned, rich flavored, squash was developed in the 1890s, but fell out of favor during the Great Depression because of it's short shelf life and it's susceptibility to disease.  But seed savers in the 1990s reclaimed the strain and started bringing the breed back.  

It seems that the thin skin allows for it to be eaten along with the flesh, which is considered firm and rich (kind of like a sweet potato).  But what makes me really excited about trying this one is the great variety of ways you can cook it.  Baked, sauteed, roasted, steamed, and boiled!  And it pairs well with both sweet and savory flavors!  So many ideas...

Pumpkin #3- Long Island Cheese Pumpkin

This particular was one of the smallest ones in the crate, and it's pretty hefty.  Believe me, I had to lug it upstairs to our apartment. 

This variety is one of the oldest documented species of pumpkin in the US, but it's roots start where most pumpkins come from, Central America.  And even though the earliest written documentation is from 1807, there is no doubt that it is thousands of years older than that.  It's popularity is not only from it being a good source of nutrients, but also as animal fodder (or food).  

When cooked the flesh has an almost custardy texture with a mildly sweet earthy flavor.  And it, like the Delicatta, is very versatile with different cooking techniques.  

I'm SO excited about this one!  There's something about cooking up a well documented historic pumpkin as it was cooked hundreds of years ago!  

Which leads us too our next pumpkin...

Pumpkin #4- Hubbard Squash

Now this one didn't take much research to find, the name was written above it when I bought it.  But it's also one of the most recognizable of the heritage breed pumpkins.

The color and the EXTREMELY thick skin are it's telltale signs.  In fact several sites recommend that you get it precut before you attempt to cook it.  So this will be interesting.  But, if I'm able to manage cutting it in half, it is recommended that the halves get roasted and then the cooked flesh be removed before using it in stews or baking with it.  This is because it's such a pain in the butt to peal all the skin and cut it all up.

With a pumpkin like this I can really envision just poking some holes in it and placing on some coals to roast by an open fire.  It's probably why the crop was so popular through the 19th century.  It's shell becomes its own vessel for cooking the flesh in.  Very convenient if you don't want to wash (or have access to) a pot!   

Pumpkin #5- Boston Marrow Squash

When I saw this one I knew I had to have it!  And, once I confirmed what type it was, I got very excited!  This was first documented in Boston MA by Mr. J. M. Ives in 1832, who comes from Salem, MA.  So this is a local heritage breed for me, though it originated in what is now Upstate NY and was grown by the Natives who lived there.  In fact there is belief that it is prehistoric in its origins, though bred and cross bred till it created this semi-large, dark orange, custard like pumpkin we know of today.

This is most noted as a pie making pumpkin, since the flesh once cooked has a custardy consistency as well as a sweet undertone.  And, like most older versions of winter squash, it was a great keeper, being able to be stored once harvested for several months through the winter.  Hence why pumpkins were so popular to cook with before ice boxes and fridges changed the seasonality and how long you could keep fresh produce.

Pumpkin #6- Buttercup Squash

Now this one was a hard one to figure out.  It seemed darker at times than a Butternut, but wasn't the light grey/green of a Little Blue Hubbard.  But there were times when the Butternut would get this dark green hue, and you can faintly see the lines going down the sides that are indicative of such.  So I concluded it is that.  Though if I find the flesh different or tastes different than described, I'll look into it much further.

When cut open the first thing that hits you is the fresh, cucumber like smell of the flesh.  Once that flesh is cooked it will have a satiny, mildly sweet taste.  It does very well steamed, baked or roasted and is very good with savory flavors, especially cheeses.

The interesting thing is that we know exactly when this pumpkin was developed since there is full documentation at the University of North Dakota, where it was first bred in 1925.  What they were looking for exactly, or how the did it, I don't know.  More research in my future!

Pumpkin #7- Sugar Pumpkin

Now here's the most recognizable pumpkin of the lot!  Though I didn't realize that the pumpkins we associate with Halloween/Fall decorations are actually several different types of pumpkin.  And these smaller ones, that I remember painting faces on with my Mom when I was younger, are specifically called Sugar pumpkins.

Now, from the obvious name, these pumpkins have a very sweet taste when cooked. And it's most common to use the cooked flesh in baking (whether in pies as a filling or put into pancake of muffin batters for texture and flavoring).  But it also will hold its shape well when roasted in the skin, so stuffed pumpkin receipts will be good to use with this one as well.

Pumpkin #8- Mystery Pumpkin/Squash

And now, our mystery pumpkin!!!

I really have no idea what this one is, so if anyone does please let me know!

The closest I think I got was the yellow/green marrow squash, known for its zucchini like flavor and texture.  But that is usually a summer squash and the skin is much thinner than this one appears to have.  

So I'll keep looking, but I really don't think I'll know till I cut it open and cook it.  Besides, it's kind of exciting to see what it comes out as!

So there they are, the 8 different pumpkins I bought from the "Decorative Gourd" crate (or crates since there are several places we went)!

Now all that needs to be done is to find 8 historic receipts to cook each one with!  And it will be a highly scientific and well researched search involving me going "That's a cool receipt!  I think I'll try it with this cool pumpkin!"  So that means you'll soon be seeing 8 new pompion/pumpkin/squash receipts up on the blog! 

I do hope my family REALLY likes pumpkin...


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