The pumpkin is a fruit that is grown all over the world. The technical name for pumpkin is cucurbita; they are members of the gourd family. Pumpkins are available in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Some are used in pies and other desserts and others are used for decoration, such as the varieties in the pepo family commonly carved into jack-o'-lanterns and put out at Halloween. The other major families of pumpkins are maxima, mixta and moschata.
The cucurbita maxima group includes the largest pumpkins, some weighing over 200 pounds. Because of their size, they last a long time. They have a stem that resembles a cork, and their skin is yellow and smooth. Cucurbita maxima pumpkins are grown in the autumn and last through winter. Varieties of cucurbita maxima include Atlantic Giant, Big Max, Big Moon, Casper, Lumina, Mammoth Gold, Prizewinner, Small Sugar, Snow and Spook Pie.
Varying in sizes, pumpkins in the cucurbita moshata family are used in pumpkin pies and other baked goods. The skin of this type of pumpkin is orange; however, as they mature their color turns tan. They have an elongated shape with a sweet taste. Varieties of pumpkins in this family include the Buckskin, Chelsey, Cushaw Green, Dickinson Field, Golden Cashaw, Kentucky Field, Neck Pumpkin and Waltham Butternut.
Cucurbita mixta pumpkins are not as sweet as the cucurbita moshata or cucurbita maxima pumpkins. They have yellow or cream-colored skin, long stems, and hard and soft rinds. Some varieties have yellow or orange flowers and are curved in shape. Because they are not too sweet, cucurbita mixta pumpkins taste great with brown sugar or syrup. Varieties of cucurbita mixta include Green-Striped Cushaw, Sweet Potato, Tennessee and White Cushaw.
Cucurbita pepo pumpkins are the most popular for decorating, as they are ideal for carving into jack-o'-lanterns. They are orange in color with a hard stem. Some varieties can be eaten before they reach maturity. Varieties of cucurbita pepo include Baby Boo, Jack-Be-Little, Jack-Be-Quick, Jack-O-Lantern, Little Boo, Munchkin, Sweetie, Trick or Treat, Tricky Jack and Triple Treat.
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