Tips & Tricks
Guide to Gourds
It’s fall, y’all! That magical time of year when the leaves turn from green to burnt orange, a crisp breeze settles in the air, and pumpkin spice makes everything nice. To help usher in the autumnal spirit, we’ve put together a Guide to Gourds, with everything you need to know about decorating, carving, and savoring pumpkins and all of their squash siblings.
Did you know that your favorite fall vegetable… is actually a fruit? Yes, squash and pumpkins are scientifically considered fruits, as they contain seeds and are developed from the flower of the plant. For more fun facts about gourds, read on:
- Gourds found in the Americas date as far back as 11,000 BC, while some archaeological sites in Thailand go back to 6,000 BC!
- In fact, some records show that gourds were among the first domesticated plant species in all of Asia.
- Gourds—including squash and pumpkins—have long been multi-purpose; different cultures have used them as soup bowls, drinking cups, banjos, decorations, and even medicine. And that’s not to mention the most important usage: food!
- In 2020, a man from Minnesota won the 47th annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off for his 2,350 pound pumpkin. What’s more, this is not a world record—in 2016, a Belgian man harvested a 2,624 pound pumpkin. Phew!
Fall decorations aren’t limited to pumpkins; you can take any type of squash and dress it up! We have a few recommendations:
- Paint your butternut squash with silly faces, or any kind of design you like. This type of squash would make a perfect ghost, or perhaps paint a haunted house with a full moon… spooky!
- Try a marbled effect by using nail polish! Fill a bucket with water, pour in some of your favorite nail polish colors (the polish should float), use a skewer to swirl the colors together, then dip your pumpkin in—voila, you have a marbled pumpkin, dazzling with color!
- What odds and ends do you have lying around the house? Maybe some pipe cleaners, cotton balls, or tissue paper—all of which can be used to decorate your pumpkins! With a dab of glue, the choices are endless. Leftover glitter can adorn your squash stems, faux flowers can be glued on for an added three-dimensional element, you can even cover your gourds in newspaper for an old-timey look.
Carving pumpkins can be as simple or as ornate as you wish. (With our Chef’n Pumpkin Carving Kit at 31% off through October, it will certainly be easy! Use code: PUMPKIN31 at check-out for great savings.) A few of our favorite ideas include:
- A classic greeting, Trick or Treat
- A spooky spider web
- An eerie haunted house
- Any of these faces would make for a great jack-o’-lantern
- Use your butternut squash as a base for a velvety, rich risotto.
- With flavor similar to that of a sweet potato or chestnut, kabocha squash is perfect for a curried soup or even a congee.
- Sugar pumpkins make for a lovely table decoration; why not pour pumpkin soup right back into the shell of the pumpkin for a decorative vessel? You could also simmer with roasted tomatoes and a smoky chipotle salsa for a Mexican-inspired dish.
- For a sweet treat, trying baking your acorn squash with some brown sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top. Or, enjoy hearty vegetarian dish of Stuffed Acorn Squash.
- Buttercup squash has a similar flavor to sweet potato; try replacing your favorite sweet potato recipes with this gourd, maybe a buttercup squash, tahini, and kale salad—yum!
- Everyone knows that spaghetti squash is a great replacement for spaghetti noodles, but there are countless ways to use this funky gourd: Spaghetti squash and chickpea fritters? Chili stuffed spaghetti squash bowls? Squash noodle soup? Try ‘em all!
- The shape of delicata squash handily enables the fruit to serve as a vessel; slice the squash into inch-sized rounds, place an egg in the middle, and bake! You’ll have delicious (and easy) baked eggs, ready to be topped with arugula, cheese, tomato jam, whatever your heart desires—and a show-stopping brunch.
When you’re done enjoying this delicious fall harvest, be sure and save your scraps. While you may not want to chow down on squash skin, it is entirely edible—and perfect for homemade squash stock. In fact, you can add any part of the squash to the stock, seeds, leaves, and all!