Fall Brings Heirloom Pumpkins To The Table

While photographing at the Farmers’ Market this morning I spotted some interesting squashes and pumpkins. I was drawn to the beautiful colors and the fact that whoever harvested them left plenty of interestingly twisted stems on them. I was especially drawn to a salmon colored one with peanut shell-like warts all over it and a pinwheel like set of stems on top.

I stuck up a conversation with, what turned out to be, the mother of the farmer who grew them. She said it was her daughter-in-law’s idea to grow a variety of heirloom squash and pumpkins and sell them to florists, restaurants and others who might be looking for unique and beautiful squashes and pumpkins that you could create unique centerpieces with, hence the effort at harvest to leave a good amount of stems on them.  The pumpkin that I was most interested in is called Galeux d’Eysines, or “peanut pumpkin”.  She showed me the clipping from the seed catalog and pointed out how expensive the seed was.  Intrigued with our conversation I started research as soon as I got home.

Some of what I found; “Galeux d’Eysines – meaning “embroidered with warts from Eysines” (a small city in the southwest of France). It has pale salmon-orange skin covered with amazing veins of protruding warts” ‘Galeux d’Eysines’ undergoes an almost magical transformation in the garden. The fruits form, usually a maximum of four to a vine, and look like any ordinary winter squash. They are round, and green, and completely unremarkable. But then, something happens. In late summer, the green squashes start to take on the palest pink blush, and, before long peanut shaped warts cover the surface.” The warts are caused by the build-up of sugars in the  skin. Each squash is different, and the number of warts, as well as the ultimate color of the squash, varies by when you harvest it. You can harvest as soon as it turns pink, or you can let it stay on the vine until it turns a deep salmon color. The flavor also develops the longer it stays on the vine. The texture of the pumpkin is silky, but it holds up well in sautés or when roasting. The flavor is best described as somewhere between a pumpkin and a sweet potato. It is also very tasty in soups and stews and delicious as pie.

I’m definitely going to have to try this one. But, first I need to find a couple of partners to share with. At an average size of 10 – 15 lbs that’s a lot of pumpkin, even for someone who really likes pumpkin.

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