Pumpkins & Squash & Gourds, OH MY!
Pumpkins & Squash & Gourds, OH MY!
What do you (or your kids) call the stuff inside a pumpkin that you scoop out to make a Jack-O-Lantern? Seeds and pulp or fibers are probably the correct terms, but I’ve heard some people refer to them as “guts” and “innards” too. For my kids, the term was “spubbus.” I don’t know why or where that came from, but 25 years later, this non-word quickly comes to mind in October.
Getting at the Seeds
Getting the spubbus out was a messy, time-consuming job. I don’t remember what we used–probably some spoon from the silverware drawer–but it was never an easy task. If only we had known about Rada’s Ice Cream Scoop! The stub-nose edge EASILY scrapes the fibers and seeds from a pumpkin, and the handle WILL NOT BEND like the spoon handle most certainly did.
How do YOU carve a Jack-O-Lantern?
- Cut off the top of the pumpkin, set a candle inside, and use the cut-off portion as a lid.
- Cut off and discard the bottom and set the pumpkin OVER the candle.
Either way, your Jack-O-Lantern will be shining bright. And with very little effort from you! With the Ice Cream Scoop and a super-sharp Rada Serrated Slicer or Serrated Steak Knife for carving, you might just LOOK FORWARD TO this fall tradition.
Designed for ice cream, but why stop there!?
But what if you want to forego Jack-O-Lantern making and simply use the flesh and seeds in recipes? Simply cut the pumpkin into manageable pieces using a long serrated knife. If the pumpkin is small, just cut it in half; for a larger one, quarter it, and if necessary, cut the quarters in half. Scrape off all the seeds and pulp with the Ice Cream Scoop. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until fork-tender.
Set aside until cool enough to handle then carefully remove the skin using a sharp non-serrated knife (a paring knife or slicing knife work well, depending on the size of the pumpkin). Mash the pumpkin and use in your favorite recipe. If that happens to be dessert, don’t forget the add ice cream. You’ve already got the appropriate tool!
Using Pumpkin Seeds
Once you’ve removed the seeds from the pumpkin, put them into a colander and wash, removing any pulp. Dry thoroughly using a towel–this is important for creating crisp seeds. Toss seeds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika or any of your favorite seasonings. Put in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring twice. Yum!
If you love winter squash (hubbard, acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and others), this is your lucky day!
Cut and remove seeds from any winter squash in the same way you would from a pumpkin–the same tools work perfectly. Simply bake these beauties and eat with a little butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar (or salt and pepper instead). If, however, you’re looking for something a little more interesting, check out the recipe at the bottom of this post for Southwest Spaghetti Squash. IT’S DELICIOUS!
For the Birds
Did you grow gourds or pick some up at a farmers’ market with the intention of making houses for your birds? If so, the birds will thank you. Keep in mind that the gourds need to be dried first over the winter. Come spring, you can drill a hole for your feathered friends and add a hanger. Decorate the houses if you’d like or simply hang them in their natural state from tree branches (choose a location you can see from a window for the best viewing potential).
Did you know? Pumpkin, squash, and melon are all part of the gourd family!
Keep reading to find out how to preserve pumpkins and winter squash and to grab that yummy recipe.
Freezing Pumpkin & Squash for Later Use
Follow the instructions above for baking. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. Then pack the cooled puree into rigid freezer containers, leaving ½ inch of headspace; seal and freeze. Alternately, put the cooled puree into zip-top freezer bags, push out all the excess air, close, and freeze.
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Southwest Spaghetti Squash
1 medium spaghetti squash
½ red onion
1 red bell pepper
2 chipotle peppers in adobo
1 jalapeño pepper
1 T. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1½ tsp. each ground cumin, dried oregano, and chili powder
Coarse salt and black pepper to taste
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 C. frozen corn, thawed
Juice and zest of 1 lime
½ C. chopped fresh cilantro, divided
½ C. each shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pierce the shell of the squash several times with a sharp knife and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Let set until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, chop the onion, bell pepper, and chipotle peppers and finely chop the jalapeño. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables and cook for 2 minutes. Mince the garlic and add it to the skillet along with the cumin, oregano, chili powder, salt, and pepper; cook for another minute. Stir in the beans, corn, lime juice, and half the cilantro.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Gently scrape the inside with a fork to remove it in long spaghetti-like strands; add the strands to the mixture in the skillet and stir in both cheeses. Mound the mixture evenly into the squash halves or individual serving bowls; sprinkle with lime zest and the remaining cilantro. Serve immediately.