Pumpkin or Squash?
Updated: Aug 8
Well, that is a question that came to mind after moving from the North American to the Australian continent. Here are some interesting facts...
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. The spaghetti squash is still a little bit unknown up here in the Snowys, as I’ve noticed to this date. In autumn, heaps of pumpkins are featured in farmers' markets and they can be found all year-round at any supermarket. Other than the big orange pumpkin that is mostly used as a decoration for Halloween on the Canadian side, I have discovered in Australia many more varieties with an array of coloured skin and shapes. Some of them that I knew as squash before, like the Butternut, are considered here to be a pumpkin. 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 cold zone of the Snows, it’s spring and time to sow pumpkin seeds in the ground rather than find the most terrifying costume for Halloween. There are very few Jack-O’lantern on front porches here and Halloween is not as strongly celebrated as it is where I’m from. It would feel a little bizarre for me at this time when evenings are bright having to dress up like a ghost… so I'll leave that to the kids now. However, when pumpkin season is on downunder, people just really get into it! They are cooked in so many versatile ways on soups, risottos, salads, pasta, 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 cooking before was mostly soups and pies (traditional at Thanksgiving but very often made from a can). This is quite interesting due to the fact that these fruits are native to the Americas! I am glad to have learned all this as the whole family of cucurbits are our most nourishing fruits from the garden (summer and winter squashes), and they are on the menu for at least 3 seasons a year!
Colourful and warming pumpkins • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020-22
GROWING & COOKING TIPS
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 pastas. It will add extra pumpkin flesh and makes a stunning autumn presentation inspired by the native American pumpkin bowls.
Check out some of my pumpkin recipes and inspirations: