I had no idea until last winter during my study period that unripe pumpkin is edible. The discovery and experimentation this summer is changed my plans. No more zucchini or summer squash. Unripe pumpkin tastes better than either zucchini or summer squash.
I usually just let my unripe pumpkins rot at the end of the year. Many of the really small pumpkins that do make it to the orange stage, end up rotting too because they aren’t fully developed. What a waste! Maybe you think like the gentleman at the local nursery that they are poisonous. I did not think that but what to do I had no idea. I discovered we’d been missing out big time.
Surprisingly the flavor of unripe pumpkin is not pumpkiny. It’s similar to zucchini or summer squash for after all that is what they are, unripe squash. Rouge De vif tampe pumpkins unripe had a more intense and complex flavor. The texture is similar to zucchini and summer squash but it cooked more quickly. That was great.
- I began to wonder why I was even growing summer squash or zucchini?
From summer or zucchini squash you can eat the:
- unripe fruit 2. the blossom
3.and the leaves (Younger plants are more tasty.)
- Now compare that with the types of squash with long term storage ability.
You can store the ripe fruit for months. No refrigeration required. You can eat the:
1. unripened fruit 2. the young vines and leaves
3. the seeds 4. mature fruit
5. the blossoms too.
The whole plant excluding the root and maybe that too, I don’t know. I think I’ll leave that section for the worms. I’m getting so much already.
It just makes sense to me to use my winter squash to it’s full potential and save the space I would have grown a summer variety for something else. No, I won’t have as many small pumpkins to work with like the summer variety but that’s okay. We have too many of those since my goats, chickens, rabbits, and sheep won’t eat them fresh or dried.
I dry extra to form a powder to add to taco shells and noodles when I make them. I add it to cream soups but seriously, I just can’t keep up. I chop up extras and feed them to the wildlife.
The pumpkin vines the beef will eat, some of the rabbits, and I’ve not tried the goats or sheep. I know the White-tail deer think they are a real treat along with the fruit. They can’t have the fruit but I throw the vines and leaves over that I trim back.
I’m drying some of my immature Rouge de vif tampe pumpkin and I will dry some mature fruit after it has been cooked. That’s later as the pumpkins are just now turning orange. I have two little pumpkins, the size I have been cooking unripe which are beginning to turn orange. I want to wait just a slight bit longer but before the skin begins to toughen. Then I’ll fry them up and see if the pumpkin flavor will come through. Wouldn’t it be great if it did. Sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on them and call it a healthier dessert.
Rouge vif d’tampe is on the left and New England Sugar Pie on the right.
For those of you who haven’t grown Rouge vif d’tampe, it is moisture and sweeter than New England Sugar Pie, which has the Thanksgiving earthy pumpkin pie flavor. This year I am finally going to make pumpkin fudge. This is the pumpkin I have in mind for the experiment. Is it yummy? I’ve never even tasted it. If the recipe calls for Marshmallow Creme you can be sure I’ll be making my own. I have the most divine recipe. But that’s later too.
Next year I am going to grow New England Sugar Pie and Buttercup squash. As you can see below I can’t grow the Rouge type with Buttercup or they cross pollinate. Though I know how to hand pollinate the flowers and keep them from cross pollinating why do so? It’s less work to just grow them different seasons and save seed.
Rouge de vif tampe – C. Maxima
Buttercup – C. Maxima
New England Sugar Pie – C. Moschata
Zucchini and Summer Squash – C. Pepo
One of these years I need to learn about using the young pumpkin vines and leaves in meals but this year we are good with just tasting them raw. Not grassy but not real flavorful. Would be okay combined with other stronger flavored foods. Maybe next year. I have so many other experiments going right now.
This year I will try some blossoms fried. Did you know you can freeze, can, and pickle them too? I’ve got so… much to learn.
I have the biggest pumpkins I’ve ever grown this year and the others are no slackers. It was a very cool summer too. How did that happen? Not the weather but the huge size. I’ll save that for another post. But I’ll admit right now it wasn’t on purpose but when it happened it was an “Aw haw!” moment because it made perfect sense.
If the feature picture looked extra yummy then heat your fry pan with a little olive oil in the bottom. When hot, add quarter inch slices of unripe pumpkin or do like I did, kind of quarter inch sized. Cook and when you flip to cook the other side, sprinkle with garlic salt, and crumble on some dried basil (I grow and dry my own), and I added some dried Calundela flowers. They add such a bright sunny look along with a bit nutrition though they don’t add flavor. Super simple. We had these with beef steak.
Let me know, what do you do with your squash family?
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