When autumn comes to mind, I suspect many visualize pumpkins before the gold, orange, and red of turning leaves.
Maybe these gourds have an unfair advantage with the attention they receive when Starbucks announces the return of its Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Manufacturers have also jumped on the pumpkin spice bandwagon by adding this holiday flavor to even more items every fall, e.g., deodorant, auto detail spray, dog shampoo, cat litter, potato chips, and even SPAM. (The men’s boxer briefs with PUMPKIN SPICE emblazoned across the Y-front seem like a misfire unless they are edible or scratch and sniff … nope, now that I think about it, they’re just a major misfire. Moving on!)
What’s up with all this fuss over a winter squash?
Pumpkin vs. Pumpkin Spice
When most people think of pumpkin, the flavor that comes to mind isn’t really pumpkin—it’s the pumpkin spice, a combination of cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg.
For the record, pumpkin spice does not include pumpkin. It’s confusing when you consider olive oil contains olives and fish oil contains fish, but pumpkin spice is more akin to baby oil, which doesn’t actually include babies.
Pumpkin by itself tastes similar to a sweet potato, although some people detect a subtle nutty flavor.
- As winter squash, pumpkin has a thicker skin than summer squash, like zucchini. As a result, pumpkins can be stored for up to a year in a cool, dark place.
- It’s estimated that 80 percent of pumpkins grown are sold as decoration, whereas the remaining 20 percent will be made into pumpkin pie.
- From a nutrition perspective, one cup of pumpkin cubes contains 30 calories, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein, and 0 grams of fat.
How I Became a Pumpkin Fan
Growing up, the only time I saw a pumpkin that wasn’t made of orange plastic with a handle on it was pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day. As a kid, the texture of pumpkin pie bothered me, and the spices seemed a tad strong. Pumpkin spice lattes had not been invented at the time, as far as I know.
In October 2001, I found myself camping in the Outback of Australia with fellow travelers from all over Europe. Our guide, a middle-aged faux Crocodile Dundee, grilled pumpkin one night. Naked of pumpkin spice, I could taste the subtle nutty flavor. On that starry night, faux Crocodile Dundee piqued my curiosity about all things pumpkin. Since then, I’ve tried pumpkin beer, pumpkin soup, pumpkin ravioli, and pumpkin spice chewing gum.
Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread Recipe
One of my favorite fall recipes is pumpkin bread. I especially like Allrecipes’ Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread. The recipe makes two loaves, so I have one to enjoy and a second to share. Try a slice toasted with a pat of butter spread on top.