LONG ISLAND CHEESE PUMPKIN (Cucurbita moschata) is an American heirloom from the New York / New Jersey area named for its resemblance to a wheel of cheese. Cheese pumpkins are some of the oldest squashes to be domesticated, descended from South American squash dating back some 5,000 years give or take a thousand years. They are sometimes sold as a winter squash, deflecting the pumpkin interest. Offered in American seed catalogues dating back to the early 1800s as the best pie pumpkin you can eat, with high sugar levels and bright orange flesh that is rich in beta carotene and nutrients. The slightly flattened buff-colored fruits are 6-10 pounds with deep-orange flesh that makes a knockout PUMPKIN BUTTER (see below). An Ark of Taste selection. Good keeper. 90-100 days. 10 seeds.
ABOUT PUMPKIN: Most pumpkins fall into the category of Cucurbita pepo (jack-o-lantern types). Many large fruited types are Cucurbita maxima and are irregular in size and shape. Other pie pumpkins are Cucurbita moschata and excellent for processing. If you are saving seeds, do not grow hybrids and do not grow more than one variety of the three types or cross-pollination can occur. Soil should be well-drained with a pH of 6.0-6.5 and at least 60 degrees. Seeds will rot otherwise. Plant in hills, which will also help warm the soil. Plant 6-8 seeds per 2' hill 1" deep and gently tamp soil. Do not over-fertilize with nitrogen as this will encourage vine growth instead of fruit but do provide plenty of rich compost. Because they have deep roots, water one inch per week and allow it to soak deeply into the soil. Water in the morning, so leaves dry by evening. The first flowers that appear will be male, whose function it is to provide pollen for bees who then pollinate the female plants. The male flowers simply drop off (gather them up quickly and batter them up for a tasty treat). The female flowers will be swollen at their base. If they appear before the males, they will not go to fruition.
PUMPKIN SEEDS are a nutritious snack! Just clean and gently roast with a little light oil and salt or eat raw (many prefer this way). Subtly sweet and nutty with a malleable, chewy texture, the roasted seeds from inside your Halloween pumpkin are one of the most nutritious and flavorful seeds around. While pumpkin seeds are available year round, they are the freshest in the fall when pumpkins are in season. The healing properties of pumpkin seeds have recently been investigated with respect to osteoporosis, bladder function, arthritis, prostate health, kidney stones, cancer and depression. They lower cholesterol, are anti-inflammatory and a rich source of minerals, protein and mono-unsaturated fat. Snack on a quarter-cup of pumpkin seeds and you will receive 46.1% of the daily value for magnesium, 28.7% of the DV for iron, 52.0% of the DV for manganese, 24.0% of the DV for copper, 16.9% of the DV for protein, and 17.1% of the DV for zinc.
PUMPKIN BUTTER RECIPE: This recipe works with any pumpkin, adjusting for the moisture content of the pumpkin. It is basic -- you can play with it and add your own culinary artistry. Slice and de-seed (saving the seeds) your pumpkin(s) and brush with a butter that has been infused with herbs and spices (suggested spices are fresh ground nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, anise, basil, lemon balm, etc.) and bake 30 min to 1 hr at 350 degrees until a fork slips in and out easily. Remove and allow to cool. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh and combine in your blender or food processor with proportional amounts based on amount of pumpkin: grated fresh ginger, raw honey, apple cider and puree. (Chopped dried apricots make another excellent addition). Cook in saucepan, slowly, until reaching the desired "butter" stage where it sheets when a teaspoonful is placed on waxed paper. It is ready to process into jars for gifts and/or your own harvest table. Enjoy!