Written By Gavin Westover, Marketing and Communications
When you think of America this July 4th, several clear images may come to mind: eagles- particularly bald ones, freedom- even though it’s more of an abstract concept and not really a physical thing, and perhaps most of all, the beautiful red, white, and blue colors that make up the American flag.
One thing that may not come to mind, though still whole-heartedly American, is the humble yet elegant pumpkin. Much like the people who reside in the melting pot that is the United States of America, pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The largest pumpkin ever grown ended up weighing over 2,600 pounds, which goes to show just how diverse pumpkins can turn out to be. Furthermore, there are green, red, white, blue, and even multi-colored variants. Be that as it may, most people’s favorite pumpkin comes in that iconic orange color.
The suave pumpkin originates from North America, specifically what is now the southern United States and northern Mexico. While the pumpkin is categorized as a gourd or a squash, it’s also technically a fruit. While we here at EGC wouldn’t recommend consuming it that way, a bowl filled with pumpkin and tomato is, by definition, a fruit salad. Moreover, two conventional foods that utilize the magnificent pumpkin include a Halloween and Thanksgiving classic in pumpkin pie, as well as roasted pumpkin seeds. Nearly every part of the pumpkin can be eaten, however, from its flesh to its leaves. It’s not just eaten, however- it can be used as a decoration as well.
Just seeing the majestic pumpkin conjures thoughts of Halloween, a holiday that came to America by Irish immigrants in the 19th century as a result of the Irish Potato Famine, surely brought upon due to the inferiority of the potato to the pumpkin. Nevertheless, pumpkin carving has become a classic fall activity for children and adults alike. The timeless Jack O’Lantern also dates back to the 19th century, and gets its name from the legend of an Irishman known as Stingy Jack, a drunkard who ends up having to negotiate with Satan, which leads to him having to wander the earth aimlessly with only a hollowed-out gourd to lead his way.
However, pumpkins have to work hard to become as famous as they are. They begin their journey into stardom as a simple seed. Some will go on to be roasted and eaten, some will be thrown away after being scooped out to make room for a candle, but a lucky few will go on and be planted in fertile, loamy soil with a neutral pH. Those that do quickly sprout up, appropriately becoming known as sprouts. They continue to grow, forming the vines that become the infrastructure will become the pumpkin patch. In anticipation of the beauty that the plant will eventually become, the vines grow flowers to celebrate. Of course, the flowers serve a secondary purpose as well to spawn the actual pumpkins themselves after being pollinated. The pumpkins start off green and small, and turn their final color once they get bigger, in EGC’s case, orange. Thus, the life-cycle restarts from the beginning of this stunning squash, to be used for any number of recipes or activities.
A fully grown pumpkin
One commonly overlooked use of pumpkins is seeing how far one can chuck them. Appropriately known as pumpkin chucking, the activity sees individuals competing to throw a pumpkin, (of which only certain varieties are allowed to reduce variables) as far as possible through the use of a catapult, trebuchet, cannon, or any other sort of launching device. It truly encapsulates the beauty of human ingenuity when you see a pumpkin getting so ruthlessly propelled thousands of feet away by a man-made machine. As of 2019, people have been able to launch pumpkins up to 4,600+ feet.
We here at EGC admire the pumpkin, which is why we grow it at several locations that we tend to. If you’re interested in incorporating this glorious gourd into your cooking, or just want to learn more about them, a previous EGC article contains several recipes as well as extra facts about pumpkins here: Pumpkin Facts, Nutrition, Recipes, and More!