Great Pumpkins!

Colonel Orange,

I would like to go to a Pittsburgh area farm to pick pumpkins for carving. Do you have any suggestions?

Can carving pumpkins (uncarved, of course) be used for pumpkin pie? Do you have a recipe for pumpkie pie filling?

Ms. Peacock

Dear Ms. Peacock,

I’m awfully busy carving Mr. Body right now, so I don’t really have much time to research pumpkin patches, and since halloween is fast approaching, I figure I’ll just quickly scrawl what I know:

I don’t know the whereabouts of any patches. Last year, I went to Traxx Farms, I think, which is a huge super-farmstore, but they had a wide selection of squashes and pumpkins. I often get produce from Soergel’s in Wexford, but again, large farmstore, not a patch.

Carving pumpkins can make good pies, but it’s not guaranteed as they’re bred for their size and their looks: so while one might taste just fine, another (even if it looks the same) may be unpleasant to the palate. They’ll still do as well for pies even if they’re carved. My mom used to save the scraps from carving and cook them down; then after halloween was over, she’d cut the carbony black stuff from the candles out of the insiodes of our pumpkins and cook what was left. Impressive, but you don’t necessarily have to go to that trouble if you don’t want to.

Better pie materials include smaller pumpkins, uglier pumpkins (like hubbards), and other winter squashes (like acorn and butternut). Cut into 3/4 inch pieces. Roast with spices and olive oil for 20 minutes or so (or until soft). Puree in food processor or, if you’d like a little more texture, with a potato masher. Because you’ll be truly roasting the squash (as opposed to steaming it in a covered container) and because it’s in such small pieces (thereby increasing the exposed surface area), there shouldn’t really be any excess moisture; however, if it’s not a firm mass when you’re done pureeing, let it drain in a collander (in a bowl; the top covered with plastic wrap and a weight set on top) for several hours or overnight; but, like I said, I don’t think excess moisture should be an issue.

2 cups of puree is equivalent to one can of processed pumpkin for recipe purposes.

3 Responses to “Great Pumpkins!”

  1. Clara Lee Says:

    You didn’t give her my recipe for pumpkin pie filling.

    Also, do you remember the time that we had a very bitter Halloween pumpkin and fortunately I caught it before mixing all the pumpkins I had cooked together to freeze. I still don’t know what caused that but I now taste the pumpkin before mashing it just to be sure I’m not going to have a disaster when I cut into the pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.


  2. Paul Says:

    To answer Ms. Peacock’s query, Simmons Farm, which is about 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh grows their own pumpkins and has a huge selection for sale. You can also pay a little extra for the experience of tromping through their pumpkin patch and picking your own. I discovered this when I went down there a few weeks back to go apple-picking from their orchards.

    Directions and more info available at

    Prof. Plum

  3. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » More About Squash Says:

    [...] Neither question is, to my sensibilities, reasonable. The answer to the former is, “for the same reason you ought to go to the trouble to make your own applesauce, because the stuff that comes out of a can sucks!” (a line perhaps best delivered while wearing a curly, red-haired wig); and to the latter, “Well, why not? It’s easy to do in bulk, it freezes well, and once you have it there’s so much you can do with it: muffins or cupcakes, pies, ice cream, custard, cookies, soup, souffles, fritters….” Squash is extremely versatile, tastes good, and is high in both potassium and vitamin A. If you don’t like peeling it first, you don’t necessarily have to. And here’s another way to cook it down. [...]

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