Well ... pumpkins and winter squash belong to this family and what is fall without pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns and butternut squash soup? And how could we ever have Thanksgiving dinner without pumpkin pie for desert?
Pumpkins have come to represent the end of the harvest season and many have used these colorful "squash" and other members of the cucurbit family for creating festive fall displays.
Gourds, squash and pumpkins come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Some of the new varieties of warted gourds look just like they've come out of a science fiction movie.
If you choose to grow your own pumpkins, gourds, and winter squash, you can not only decorate for fall, but you can use some of them in your favorite fall and holiday cooking recipes.
Crown of Thorns, Penguin, Speckled Swan, Birdhouse, Caveman's Club, and Big Apple.
Howdens, Dill's Atlantic Giant, and Racer.
Sweet Dumpling, Acorn, Buttercup, Waltham, Butternut, Jarrahdale, Sunshine, Long Island Cheese, Turks Turban, Cinderella, Fairytale, and Blue Hubbard.
Gourds such as Big Apple, Bottle or Speckled Swan should be harvested with 2-3 inch stems after the vines die back. They can then be hung to dry in a well ventilated place. Curing and drying should take place slowly and can take 6 months to a full year at 50º - 60ºF. Temperatures above 60ºF may cause too much mold to grow.
Pumpkins must first be cured before they will store well. To cure pumpkins, store them in a warm, dry location at 70º - 80ºF for one to two weeks. After curing, they should be stored in a warm, dry area at 50º - 60ºF. These will keep for 2-3 months.
Fall and Winter Squash are best stored at 50º - 60ºF. Be sure to handle them carefully to avoid bruising and be sure they get good air circulation.
Many of the squash and pumpkins can be used for cooking purposes.
One of Mark's favorite recipes for acorn squash, Butternut, or Buttercup squash is as follows: