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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Bolduc

Pumpkin or Squash?

Updated: Mar 25

This question arises when moving from North America to Australia. Read on for the answer!

Various homegrown pumpkins... or squash! • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2022

In Australia, most winter squashes are simply called pumpkins. The word “squash” is commonly used for the summer squashes, which are picked young with soft, tender and edible skin like the zucchinis and yellow buttons. As I've noticed, the spaghetti squash is still unknown or "out of fashion" to many on this side of the world, but is one of the rare winter squashes that is not called a pumpkin. In autumn, heaps of pumpkins of all colours and shapes are featured in farmers' markets and agricultural shows, and they can be found all year round at any supermarket. The giant orange pumpkin is not the favourite one for cooking, but it is mainly used as a decoration for Halloween on the Canadian side and for kids to grow and take to a competition on the Australian side. The Butternut squash is a popular one, and considered here to be a pumpkin, something I've learned after a "pumpkin or squash" argument with my mother-in-law on my first year growing fruits and veggies downunder. Australia has Heirloom heritage varieties like the Queensland Blue (blue skin), Jarrahdale (grey skin) and the Kent (green and beige patches, which is also called a Jap). Those varieties are full of tender and tasty flesh.

Pumpkin soup, a winter favourite on both sides of the world • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2022

In October, in the southern hemisphere, it is time to sow pumpkin seeds rather than find the most terrifying costume for Halloween. There are very few Jack-O’lanterns on front porches, but Halloween does not make much sense to me here in spring. However, pumpkins are enjoyed as food out here more than in North America, and many people enjoy them all year! Australians cook them in many versatile ways, on soups, risottos, salads, pasta, relish, bread, cake or even as a pizza topping. My mother-in-law always adds pieces to her traditional roasts (baked in the pan along with potatoes around the meat). What I knew about pumpkins in terms of recipes before was mostly soups and pies (traditional at Thanksgiving but very often made from canned puree). This is quite interesting because these fruits are native to the Americas!

Colourful and warming pumpkins • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020-22


All winter squashes and pumpkins are harvested in autumn and can be stored for a few months. Rich in vitamin A, they are a perfect economic fruit (botanically speaking, but are prepared most of the time as vegetables) that you can have for many winter meals. If you’ve got some extra sugar pumpkin (or any small rounded winter squash), empty and roast them to fill up with some cooked risotto, soup, stews or pasta. It will add extra pumpkin flesh and make a stunning autumn presentation inspired by the Native American pumpkin bowls.

Check out some of my pumpkin recipes and inspirations:


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