6 Things You May Not Know About Pumpkins
In the United States, pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Harvested in October, this nutritious and versatile orange fruit features edible, vitamin-rich flowers, seeds and flesh. Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts, and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals.
Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that began hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Back then, however, jack-o’-lanterns were made from turnips or potatoes; It wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin that a new Halloween ritual was born. Now, pumpkins are typically placed on poles during the fall months and are carved out before Halloween night.
Here are six things you might not know about them.
READ MORE: How Jack O’Lanterns Was Born In Irish Myth
1. Pumpkins are part of the squash family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelon and zucchini. These plants are native to Central America and Mexico, but now grow on six continents, all except Antarctica.
2. Native North Americans have been cultivating pumpkins for thousands of years, even before the cultivation of beans and corn.
3. In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding “large melons”. The name was translated into English as “pompions”, which has since evolved into the modern “pumpkin”.
4. According to the 2017 United States Census of Agriculture, Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the United States. It harvests twice as many acres of pumpkins as any of the other top-producing states.
5. The heaviest pumpkin was grown in Belgium in 2016 and weighed 2,624 pounds. America’s heaviest pumpkin was grown in New Hampshire in 2018 and weighed 2,528 pounds. The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in Ohio in 2010. It weighed 3,699 pounds and was over 20 feet in diameter.
6. Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and mid-June. They take 90-120 days to develop and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins next year.
READ MORE: Halloween rituals and traditions