October’s well upon us and pumpkins are everywhere: in grocery stores, at farm stands and on front porches carved as jack o’ lanterns. This ubiquitousness of pumpkins comes as no surprise: October is the month we harvest pumpkins and lots of Americans feel compelled to use them in their Halloween or Thanksgiving celebrations.
But how much do you really know about pumpkins? Here are some "riveting" facts I’ve dug up.
1. In 2008, America's pumpkin-producing states harvested 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins. That's billion, not millions. ...
2. More than 90% of the processed pumpkins come from the state of Illinois.
.3. Pumpkins originated in ... Central America.
4.Pumpkins are a member of the cucurbit family, along with squash and cucumbers.
5.Pumpkins come in all sizes. The smallest are less than a pound while some of the largest can top 1,000 pounds.
6. The Irish introduced the idea of pumpkin-carving to the United States. But here's something you didn't know: Those good folks from Ireland originally carved ... turnips.
7. Pumpkins are more than things to carve into jack o’ lanterns. Did you know you can eat the pumpkin flowers?
8. Here's one point that all good cooks are well aware of: Pumpkins can be made into pies, breads and soups.
9. Some people relish pumpkins for their potassium and vitamin A .
10. Others like to snack on seeds baked with a touch of garlic salt.
11. Pumpkins were a popular snack for Native Americans. They would roast pumpkin strips over fire.
12. Native Americans also made mats from flattened and dried pumpkin strips.
13. Native Americans also used pumpkins for medicine. Some believed that pumpkin pulp could cure freckles while others considered pumpkins a remedy for snake bites.
... I’ve never eaten roasted pumpkin strips, but I might just try them soon. It's a perfect opportunity -- when my family and I are carving pumpkins and toasting seeds this season.
Do you have any pumpkin traditions? Or perhaps a good pie recipe? Please share.