Picks of the Patch
In a dazzling array of shapes, sizes, and colors, each autumn brings a bountiful harvest of pumpkins to the patch. Native to North America, these beloved members of the squash family are now cultivated across the globe, with unique varieties cropping up from France to Australia. From tiny, white Baby Boos and knobby Galeux d'Eysines to brightly-striped Kakai and massive Atlantic Giants, there's a perfect pumpkin for any type of craft, seasonal display, or harvest-inspired recipe. We rounded up some favorites during a recent visit to Styer's, and couldn't resist finding out a little more about these cheerful additons to our autumn décor.
Knuckle Head: With a knobby, warty exterior, this hefty, bright orange variety is our pick for carvings with a little extra character. Weighing in at 12-15 pounds, a good Knuckle Head specimen should be about 12" tall with a slightly elongated shape. Don't be fooled by its spooky appearance; its seeds also make a tasty snack when roasted.
Triamble: Named for its three, triangular lobes, this rare Australian cultivar is our decorating favorite thanks to its eye-catching blue rind. Boasting a long shelf life and dense, abundant flesh with few seeds, the Triamble is also a great choice for autumn baking. (No need to worry about blue pies-- it's a traditional orange inside!)
Musquee de Provence: Flat and deeply lobed, this beautifully colored pumpkin hails from southern France. Our pick as the centerpiece for a display of pumpkins and gourds, this large variety weighs in at 15-20 pounds and is a chef's favorite thanks to sweet, full-flavored flesh. Perfect for pies and purees, it's often sold by the wedge in French markets.
Hybrid: Winter squash (a family that includes many varieties of both squash and pumpkins) can crossbreed in the garden to create unique hybrids, like this find from our nursery. We love the unusual colors and shapes that hybrid pumpkins offer for our seasonal displays, but hybrid seeds can't be saved, so these specimens are truly one-of-a-kind each year.
Fairytale: An unusual, dusky orange rind and deep ridges make this French cultivar an understated, elegantly-shaped addition to seasonal displays. Long-lasting with minimal seeds, the Fairytale weighs around 15 pounds and offers firm, dense flesh with a full flavor that adapts well to both sweet and savory dishes.