If there is any one fruit that signifies the month of October it’s the delicious, round, and ribbed squash variant known as the pumpkin. And what better time then the month of October to consider just how versatile this amazing fruit is!
Pumpkins are native to North America. The traditional pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) is traditionally planted in the spring, cultivated in the summer and harvested in mid to late fall when the outer skin is a firm bright orange. The flesh of the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted to make soup, pies, purees, dessert bars, and hundreds of other recipes. The seeds can be roasted for a delicious and healthful snack. And, of course, the fruit can be hollowed out and then faces can be carved into the shell to create the traditional jack o’lantern that is a big part of Halloween.
Pumpkins also have a wide variety of other uses. Here are a few.
- Pumpkins can be fed to dogs and cats as a supplement for managing constipation, diarrhea, or hairballs. The fiber provides the bulk matter that aids in proper digestion.
- Raw pumpkin can be fed to laying hens to increase egg production in the colder months
- Pumpkin phytochemicals and nutrients may have positive biological effects.
There are also pumpkin chunking contests where teams build mechanical devices such as catapults and cannons to hurl a pumpkin as far as possible.
So this month, while you’re eating your pumpkin pie, carving a jack o’lantern, or enjoying your pumpkin spice latte, stop for a moment and consider this amazing fruit that can be used in so many ways.