It’s squash season and you don’t know how to recognise a pumpkin from a squash, or even a red kuri squash… Here are some tips to tell the difference.
Color and shape
The pumpkin Cucurbita pepo is round or oblong and orange. The squash Cucurbita maxima, depending on the variety, can be orange (a little more red) and turn dark green, or even blue for some species. Its shape is a little more compact. This last species also includes the red kuri squash, a smaller cousin, which looks like a spinning top.
Originally from South America, those fruits, now produced in Europe, are generally harvested as ripe as possible, at the time of the first frosts in mid-October until mid-March.
It is sometimes difficult to make the difference. So, look at the peduncle. One is hard and angular : it’s the pumpkin’s one. The other one is thicker, more spongy, like a cork : it’s the squash’ one. Be careful not to grab them by the stalk because this can damage them and affect their preservation.
Flesh and shell
The heart of the pumpkin is rather spongy and the pumpkin more stringy. The shell must be very firm otherwise it will be too ripe inside and the taste will suffer. Watch out for stains or cracks, which could mean that your squash has received a few knocks.
Pumpkin and squash should be kept warm and dry, and in the fridge when you already have cut them. But you can put them in decoration, up to two years, before tasting them.
Which to eat?
In terms of flavours, these two fruits can be cooked both as a dish and as a dessert. Squash pulp has a finer and sweeter taste than pumpkin. The flesh of the Jack’o’Lantern pumpkin is a little insipid but mixed with other vegetables in a soup, it will bring a velvety texture to the preparation
These squash can be cooked in all sauces. In soups, with fresh cream, bacon bits, onions, chestnuts… To be served in the shell for a nice effect (or in a Le Creuset cocotte !). For purées, gratins and pies, add goat cheese, feta, Parmesan or a cheese like Comté, Beaufort or Cantal.
Easy to stuff, the flesh cooked slowly soaks up the flavors of the stuffing. As a dessert, they can be used in pies, cakes, waffles, donuts, jams…. Pumpkin, with its chestnut flavor, is a favored ingredient for sweet pies, often served with honey or raisins.
Don’t throw away the pumpkin seeds! They are rich in minerals, nutrients and antioxidants. Clean them, rinse them for 5 minutes in boiling water and grill them for a few minutes under the oven grill with salt and spices. Ideal for an aperitif or in a salad!
Where to get your pumpkins?
Find out about the farms around you, they often offer their cucurbits for sale at their doorstep.
In Luxembourg, the pumpkin’s specialist is Christian Hahn. His farm, the Hahn Pumkin Farm is in Roodt-lès-Ell. Enjoy a short trip to get there to buy its squashes of every colors!
In Differdange, the Guy Tempels Farm, rue de la gare, is also waiting for you : you will find all your pumpkins and squashes! To decorate or to eat!
Other farms here : www.sou-schmaacht-letzebuerg.lu
Garden centers, bio stores like Naturata, and other supermarkets also propose their batches of squashes, often from local production !