Usually my grandson has lots of pumpkins to sell, but this year they are in short supply. If he has enough for the family, that is about it. Once again the growing season this year played a trick on this crop. While the vines grew, they rapidly shriveled up from lack of moisture.
I heard an announcer on the radio reiterate the same message. If you hope to have a pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern you better get it as soon as they are out unless you live in an area that was not part of the drought.
The use of pumpkins dates back centuries. The word comes from a Greek word, "pepon" for the word for a "large melon". It is also the root word for pompom. Shakespeare referred to a "pumpion" in one of his plays. Reference to pumpkin is also found in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".
It is said that Native Americans dried strips of pumpkin to use for weaving. They used them in baskets and mats producing color and texture for the woven products.
Pumpkin pie dates back to colonial times when the colonists removed the top of the pumpkin, scooped out the seeds, and filled the pumpkin with milk, spices, and honey. Sometime later the idea of crust was added. When we butchered pigs we rendered the lard to be used for the flakiest crust that you will ever taste.
Nutritionally speaking pumpkins are loaded with beta-carotene which performs important health functions. It may in some cases prevent the development of certain types of cancer. It protects against heart disease. It also protects against several degenerative diseases.
Since there are only 49 calories in one cup of pumpkin (no salt added) it is a good choice for those conscious about their weight. You find protein, fiber, iron, vitamins A, C, and E, plus potassium and magnesium in pumpkin.
I found recipes for pumpkin crme brulee as well as pumpkin pound cake, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pudding.
Illinois claims to be the heart of pumpkin growing territory. The state produces close to 500 million pounds of pumpkin annually.
Years ago we used to grow pie pumpkins. It was exciting to find small orange globes beneath the leaves each fall. They were smaller and sweeter than those used for jack-o-lanterns. We used the pumpkins we grew for small jack-o-lanterns. I always kept stubs of candles to light the little jack-o-lanterns.
Once the pumpkins were all picked my mother-in-law and I canned and froze the meat of them. First we cleaned out the seeds, then, we cut the flesh into small pieces that could be boiled or baked. Once they were cooled we removed the skin and mashed them. I froze most of mine because I did not have a pressure canner at the time.
I wonder if pie pumpkins will be scarce this year. Since they grow during the same time frame I assume they are. We just recovered from a short crop a couple years ago where the cans of pumpkin flew off the shelves as quickly as they were stocked. I wonder what this season will bring.
No matter how you look at it farmers play a game of chance as they head into their fields each spring. They sow the seeds in faith that there will be enough sun and rain to grow a good crop. Then they wait to see how things play out.
The return may swell the coffers or they may get very little. It is always a gamble. I have to say that businesses, no matter what kind they are, have to be the ultimate gamble. An investor puts money into a business hoping for an adequate return, but that is not always the case.
I feel fortunate to have some pumpkin put away so I know I will be able to make pies, breads, and pancakes.
The October birthdays are coming up fast. I know my daughter-in-law intends to make pumpkin pie for her son's birthday.
I thought we were doing something different this year but the boy has chosen for us to go to the Audubon Society to celebrate once again. We wander the trails where "animals" tell about themselves, and then we go into the building for cider and popcorn. We have our pie later at home when we are all done. It really is a very nice night as long as the weather is decent.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org