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BEFORE THE FROST IS ON THE PUMPKIN ..& on the winter squash & gourds.

Anne K Moore

Winter squash, pumpkins and other gourds should be harvested before frost nips at their skins.  At harvest time, the skins should be tough enough to withstand a poke from a fingernail.  Pumpkins should be their ripe color, be it orange or blue, or they will not last in storage.  Carving the Halloween pumpkin also shortens its life.

All should be harvested when the vines have turned brown and shriveled.  Cut them from the vines with a knife or other sharp instrument.  Be sure to leave two to four inches of stem on the squash, pumpkins, and gourds.  If the stem breaks off, they are prone to rotting.

There are many recipes out there for using pumpkin and winter squash.  Try the Crustless Pumpkin Cheesecake offered by Chef Linda Weiss in our newsletter this month.

Winter squash choices include:  Spaghetti, Delicata, Sweet Dumpling, Butternut, Acorn, and Hubbard.  ‘Bonbon’ is a 2005 AAS (All America Selections) winner.  ‘Sunshine’, a 2004 winner, resembles a deep orange pumpkin.

Gourds are grown for their ornamental or useful appeal.  Dipper and birdhouse gourds are useful with just a little carving; turban and gooseneck gourds are ornamental hanging in the garden and are fun to display after they are harvested.

Check out these websites for full information on drying and preserving these underused vegetables:

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY; UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-LOS ANGELES COUNTY COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE;

WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY-WESTERN WASHINGTON. 

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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