America’ heartland is the center of the pumpkin industry in this country, with over 90% of pumpkins processed in the United States grown in Illinois. There are over 400 varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds. What we consider a classic orange pumpkin, is actually a uniquely American crop. Across the world, pumpkins come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
Some of the lesser-known varieties of pumpkins are:
Moranga De Mesa
Heavily ribbed, flattened shape and pinkish red color, this is a Brazilian Heirloom. It can be sliced like a cantaloupe and roasted on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Marina Di Chioggia
Originated in the seaside village of Chioggia near Venice on Italy’s Adriatic coast, this pumpkin is turban shaped with a green to blue-green skin. It is a good keeper, storing up to 6 months in a cool, dry place, although the skin may change color with time from green to a dark orange. Excellent roasted and perfect for making gnocchi.
Extremely rare ancient variety that is claimed to be the inspiration for topaz colored jewelry of ancient Indian civilizations. A dense cucurbit, its name translates to ‘leaden squash’. It has interesting, rustic-looking scarring on bluish-gray skin and is also a fine squash for eating.
One of the most unique varieties of them all. An elegant French Heirloom, it is either the ugliest or most beautiful pumpkin depending upon your point of view. This stunning squash has beautiful salmon-peach colored skin covered with peanut shell-like warts caused by sugar in the skin. Traditionally used in France for soups and sauces, when cooked, the sweet, orange flesh is as smooth as velvet.