Fall Pumpkins

It looks like we will have three pie pumpkins from the garden this year. That's not as many as we had hoped for, but it's more than we've ever had before. It's also more than we'll see of our butternut squash, of which we have zero. I think the blossoms of those kept getting eaten, so we never managed to set fruit until recently, and it's way too late for them to mature into anything edible.

But our pumpkins are doing well, and are each at a different stage of maturity, which makes for a nice photo essay on their development.

This one is the youngest, and as you can see, it's sized up, but still dark green. The orange is starting to come through, and I cleared away the sweet potato vine leaves so it could get more sun to help it ripen. (This is a rogue vine that jumped the path and ended up in the sweet potatoes. For most of the summer, we never even knew we had this third pumpkin.) Notice that the stem is also green and pliable — another important sign that this isn't yet ripe.

This pumpkin is farther along, but you can still see some lighter yellow spots on the rind, which suggests that it isn't quite ripe. Also, the stem is partly dried out and brown, but still partly green and alive. That's why we haven't cut this one yet — a pumpkin is ripe when its stem is throughly dried and brown.

Here's the ripe one! Its rind is fully orange, and the skin is tough enough to resist pressure from a thumbnail. Also, the stem is completely dried. We cut as long a stem as we could (which helps keep any rot far away from the actual pumpkin). This pumpkin is sitting out on the warm, sunny bricks for the next 10 days or so to cure. This will help ensure that the rind is tough so that it can resist rot over the winter. In theory, we should be able to store these for several months as long as they don't get bruised. In reality, we only need them to last until Thanksgiving for a pumpkin pie!


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