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September 16, 2012

Pumpkins with possibilities

From carving to cooking, fall is full of pumpkin creations

PLATTSBURGH — When Linda Facteau looks at a pumpkin, she sees more than just fall’s token fruit.

“Pumpkins, to me, have a personality,” said Facteau, produce manager at Rulfs Orchard in Peru.

Numerous varieties of pumpkin exist in the world today, each with their own distinct shape, coloring, size and markings. 

Some, like the orange “munchkin,” are small and saucer-shaped, while others are larger and uniformly round like the “Jack-o-Lantern.”

There are white pumpkins, giant pumpkins, pumpkins for pie and even pumpkins with lumps. 

And according to Facteau, some appear to be happy, while others just look scary.  

PICKING PUMPKINS

Choosing the perfect pumpkin depends largely on whether the fruit is intended for food or decor.

However, regardless of its purpose, it is important that the pumpkin be healthy, according to Sam Dyer, who, together with his wife, Mary Dyer, owns Shields Vegetable Stand in Beekmantown.

“You want to look for a fruit with no sores,” he said. “Anything with a spot on it now is not going to last.”

A pumpkin’s stem is also indicative of its health, Dyer said, so “you want a good solid stem.”

BAKING TREATS

All varieties of the seasonal fruit are edible; however, pie pumpkins tend to work best for cooking, according to Nina Sullivan, owner of Banker Orchards in Plattsburgh. 

“They are a more flavorful pumpkin,” she said.   

Pie pumpkins are also smaller in size, have thicker flesh and fewer seeds.

The standard pumpkin pie generally requires a two-to-three-pound fruit, Dyer said.

But pie is just one of many tasty treats that can be made from pumpkin; others include doughnuts, cake, cookies, muffins and bread.

In addition, Facteau said, pie pumpkins are the perfect size to be hollowed out and used to serve pumpkin soup or stew.

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