October is my favorite month of the year, and one of my favorite things to do is decorate for fall, carve pumpkins, and hand out candy on Halloween.
Pumpkins are part of the gourd or cucurbit family, which also includes cucumber, watermelon, squash, and cantaloupe. They are one of the earliest crops to be domesticated by Native Americans and to this day are used in Mexican cuisine, particularly in the dish calabaza en tacha (candied pumpkin) for the Dia de los Muertos holiday.
If you intend to carve your pumpkin, you might be tempted to pick one up at your local box store. These pumpkins are varieties specifically for carving. They have little flavor if you decide to cook them. Pie pumpkins, on the other hand, are small and typically found in the produce section of your grocery store. These have much better flavor and are easier to handle when cutting up. Sometimes the best pumpkins for eating and carving can be heirloom varieties. Old time “field pumpkin” types can be large and smooth, with softer flesh that is easier for carving. These will have a richer flavor than your typical store-bought pumpkins, should you decide to cook them. Other heirloom pumpkins are grown specifically for cooking and can be quite ornamental as well as flavorful.
For more information, check out this short video on pumpkins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ye5mzkzR6g