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The Big Pumpkin (Dump) …. and Bumped

I grew this hefty pumpkin on the left once in another life. It was a frightening experience.

If it wasn’t for Halloween, this grotesque and useless gourd would be extinct. And good riddance.

Let’s. Review.

Somewhere dotted about the fruited plains of America something like lebenty-leben gazillion acres of pumpkins are planted every damn year. Then care and water and chemicals are slathered on these fibrous tumors causing them to grow big. Some very big. Some so big that they can be hoisted into the airdropped onto a car and obliterate said automobile.

Many are midget pumpkins. This year I’m seeing teeny-weeny baby pumpkins ripe for pumpkin abuse. But most are middle to large hunks o’ pumpkin by the time they are “ready for the harvest.”

Sounds so pastoral, doesn’t it? “Ready for the harvest.” Except that when you actually “harvest” a plant the assumption is that, somewhere, somehow, some people are actually going to eat the thing.

This is the fate of only a smidgen of the pumpkins harvested. And even among those that actually eat of the pumpkin almost all are lying through their seeds when they say they like it. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, even (shudder) roast pumpkin — all foul concoctions fit only for the martyr mothers among us.

I know that many will claim to adore pumpkin pie, but that too is mindless. Give me any thick paste and let me pour tons of cream, evaporated milk, pounds of sugar, scoops of cinnamon and nutmeg into a butter-laced and crisp pie crust and you’ll love it even if the base plant was black mold from the basement.

No, the pumpkin is not an acceptable food. But do we plow it under and eradicate it from our list of things we use farmland for? No. Because anything worth doing in America is worth overdoing, we expand the acres devoted to this parasite.

We do it to empower the following process.

First, big pumpkins are grown in industrial pumpkin patches.

Then large machines and hordes of laborers go through these fields and pick them all the pumpkins up.

Then they are loaded onto big trucks and taken to some pumpkin clearinghouse where the hefty gourds are unloaded and sorted.

Then they are loaded onto other large trucks and swept away to various centralized food distribution warehouses across the nation.

Unloaded again these obese gourds are promptly loaded onto other trucks and delivered to grocery stores large and small where the weakened staff unloads and stacks them in piles.

Oceans of diesel are burned at every step in this pumpkin distribution process.

Then in you come and lift a hefty pumpkin up and load it in your car.

Then you drive home and unload it.

Then the whole family gets together to eviscerate it, slimy guts and seeds and all.

Then you all take sharp-edged implements and slash and hack at the defenseless gourd, piercing it clean through and cutting the top of its head off in some gigantic clown lobotomy.

Then you put something on fire inside it and stick it out in front of your house.

More than one family every year puts this vegetable with a fire inside it on a pile of dry leaves in front of their home thus losing their house trailer.

This is done tens or hundreds of millions of times for one single night.

After this less-than-peak experience, sooner or later every hacked-up pumpkin in America is thrown away.

I don’t want to even begin to think about the carbon footprint on this one. Neither do you. It’s too scary. Even for Halloween.

======================= UPDATE =======================

IN AMERICA, ANYTHING WORTH DOING IS WORTH OVERDOING

INCOMING! Pumpkin breaks record at NC State Fair at nearly 2,000 pounds :

ONE CRACK AWAY FROM GREATNESS!  Weighing In At 2,520 Pounds Nation’s largest pumpkin disqualified for fingernail-sized crack

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Suburbanbanshee September 22, 2018, 9:55 AM

    I like punkins. And roasted punkin seeds.

    Pumpkin makes a good solid filler, but it doesn’t have any flavor of its own. Even the European green pumpkins are tasteless. There was a French chef who said that, if you’re going to cook pumpkin, it’s like cooking tofu — you have to provide all the flavor and texture.

    Except tofu has protein, while pumpkin is a low-calorie veggie. So pumpkin soup has to be pumpkin + chicken broth and other strong flavors; and pumpkin pie follows the same principle.’

    That said, there’s nothing wrong with a cheap filler that includes a little fiber and some vitamins. When you’re headed into winter, the Vitamin A from yellow veggies is good stuff.

  • John Fleming September 22, 2018, 10:15 AM

    As Ralphie said, Halloween is the starting event in the kids’ yearly holiday cycle. My mom, being a child of the Depression, on Nov 1 would carve up the pumpkin and bake it, then put the mash into the freezer. We would have pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Smells are our strongest memories, and the smell of cooked pumpkin is for me a very happy memory

    I attempted to keep the family tradition alive, and did it myself for a number of years. I did not make heavy on the sugar concoctions. Mine was heavy on the pumpkin, with molasses and all the usual spices, just enough egg and milk to bind it all together. While I happily ate it all, the wife and kids were meh, they would only accept a polite serving, and never come back for seconds.

    So I’m a solo pumpkin eater, and it’s hard eating the whole thing. Very fattening, which is the point of it. Our bodies know it, with the golden fall light it’s time to get fat and be ready for the long cold cruel winter ahead.

    I’ve tried other brands of squashes, and experimented in the kitchen on various concoctions trying to entice and pull my wife’s tastes in the direction of liking pumpkins. No joy, she’s not going there, not now, not ever.

    My wife will have a butternut squash soup on occasion, but only when dining out at fancy Italian restaurants. Figures. Husband’s cooking is rejected, but husband’s money is golden.

  • ghostsniper September 22, 2018, 10:21 AM

    My wife will make her legendary punkin pie this year and that’ll be it. No more til next fall, which should be any day now. j/k Not really. The seasons come quicker these days, and only last a couple days it seems. Only 94 days til Christmas. And you still have to fit Halloween and Thanksgiving in there some how.

    The harvest season started about 6 weeks ago and is winding down now. Almost everything’s been cut down and distributed and now the fields will lie dormant til spring, which is about 2 months from now. We’ve been eating our neighbor Jim Bonds celebrity tomatoes til the cows come home and still have about 8 of them sitting on the counter. $4 for a small basket with 6 nice ones in it. But he’s out of tomatoes now and the tables are stacked high with butternut squash. In a week or 2 his yard will be covered with punkins. I’ll prolly get one just because.

    But the BIG seasonal/holiday deal won’t happen until 01 Oct. That’s when I break Karl and Wendle out of their dark dungeon in the corner of the garage. Large plywood cutouts I made 12 years ago of a doofy ghost (Wendle) and a sadistic jackolantern with an evil grin named Karl, and they will be installed at the end of the driveway. They will sit out there warding off ne’re do wells and other riff raff until the 1st of Nov when I reel them back into their lair for another year.

    Yeah, you read that right. 94 days. Better get hustlin….tomorrow was yesterday.

  • Callmelennie September 22, 2018, 10:54 AM

    You’re in rare form today, GL

  • Kristi Herman September 22, 2018, 11:00 AM

    I’m not sure I want to know your take on Christmas trees. Alert the authorities, indeed 😏

    • gwbnyc October 21, 2021, 2:35 PM

      -I cut a pine branch, fix it in the front porch&decorate it. just kinda let it ramble horizontalish. we have huge pines in NC, like regular trees in growth, not like “xmas trees”.

      a good xmas tree stand is a five gallon spackle bucket filled with gravel, or bagged gravel.

  • Harry September 22, 2018, 12:59 PM

    Carving pumpkins; it was fun when the kids were kids. Now that they’re grown and gone, my wife and I rarely bother anymore. I do miss the pumpkin seeds.

  • PatAZ September 22, 2018, 1:08 PM

    Pumpkin bread with lots of nuts. Yum!

  • Missy September 22, 2018, 1:27 PM

    My beau is a farmer, and he refuses to grow pumpkins. He also refuses to enter Starbucks because he heard they serve “coffee with pumpkin in it.” There is something nice to be said for purists.

  • John The River September 22, 2018, 3:22 PM

    In Mediterranean cooking Pumpkin is sliced into one inch wedges, seasoned with salt and spices (I use cinnamon and white pepper), and sautes in a pan with olive oil.

    Pumpkin seeds are great roasted and salted. Fiber!

    Your point about pumpkin pie reminds me of a guy who hated traditional New England boiled lobster, but found that the only thing about it he enjoyed was the butter. So he’d bring a foam applicator to the table and dip it into the heated butter and suck on it (awkward turn of phrase that).

    The smell of a lit candle inside a fresh craved pumpkin reminds me of my late wife, she loved craving and lighting the pumpkin. After her stroke she’d draw the design on the pumpkin and I’d crave it.
    Good memories.

  • Hotmess September 22, 2018, 5:43 PM

    They will ask what’s for dinner and you will say pumpkin soup. “Ewww!” they will say. Then they will devour every last drop. Repeat the next year and the next and so on.
    Slice one large onion very thin and saute in 1/4 C. of butter until limp. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. curry powder and saute 1-2 minutes more. Dump into food processor with 2 C. canned pumpkin and 1-1/2 tsp. of salt. Process until mixed, then slowly pour in 2 C. heavy cream. This is not diet food. Transfer puree to large sauce pan and heat slowly with 2-1/2 C. chicken stock. Garnish with sour cream, cinnamon and chopped parsley.
    If you double the batch for Thanksgiving, make sure not to overload the processor or you will be cleaning puree off the walls and ceiling.

    • gwbnyc October 22, 2021, 12:24 AM

      absolutely a delicious savory soup during football weather.

      have a ham biscuit on the side.

  • Steve in Greensboro September 22, 2018, 6:43 PM

    Pumpkin pie done properly is heavenly, but to each his own. (Like any custard, it should not be overcooked, but usually is.)

    But pumpkin should be admired for another reason, almost as important – as a dog digestive aid. My 80 pound German Shepherd bitch is a beloved member of my family. Because she is so sweet, she often gets fed treats by her family members and those treats sometimes don’t agree with her. An 80 pound dog with diarrhea is a real problem. A short fast followed by some canned pumpkin is the solution.

  • Nori September 22, 2018, 8:36 PM

    Right there,Steve’s got it, pumpkin’s saving grace. Dog digestive aid. Any time my dogs have had a spat of tummy upset, licks of canned pumpkin from my hand never fails to sooth. Runny poop in a longhair 130lb canine is uncomfortable for the dog, and unpleasant for the cleanup crew. (Me).

    Being from the south,pumpkin pie was not on the fall menus-it was sweet potato pie that filled the house with that warm spice fragrance. Firmer custard than pumpkin,neater slice. Served with hot coffee and a bit of whip cream.

  • Scott halloween September 23, 2018, 7:32 AM

    Did you know all the canned “pumpkin”is actually butternut squash? True. Real punk’n is too stringy and boring, the public hated it, but wouldn’t buy butternut squash in a can, so they added spices and swapped the labels and *TA DA* ! A new tradition is born.

  • Hangtown Bob September 23, 2018, 9:24 AM

    Hey Gerard,

    We have a pumpkin farm (patch?) down here just outside of Old Hangtown where they have a large fully operative trebuchet (for those ignorant of this magnificent weapon, it is is a type of catapult, a common type of siege engine which uses a swinging arm to throw a projectile. The traction trebuchet, also referred to as a mangonel at times, first appeared in Ancient China during the 4th century BC as a siege weapon.)

    For a price, one can buy a large pumpkin, the larger the better, and launch it into the sky, hoping to hit a bull’s-eye target at the other end of the field. Some of the “splats” are truly memorable and a much more honorable way for this noble gourd to end its life.

  • Vera September 23, 2018, 12:47 PM

    Akshually, canned pumpkin and canned pumpkin pie filling are made from pumpkins, Dickinson pumpkins, to be exact.
    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/canned-pumpkin-really-made-squash-064041577.html
    I know, Snopes. But the thing to remember is that just as all Cognac is brandy but not all brandies are Cognac, all pumpkins are squash but not all squash(es?) is pumpkin.

  • Vera September 23, 2018, 1:02 PM

    P.S. I think it’s time for McSweeney’s “It’s Decorative Gourd Season…” again.

    • gwbnyc October 21, 2021, 2:26 PM

      the wife beat The V to it about an hour ago.

  • pbird September 24, 2018, 9:30 AM

    Yes, they are useless as food, but we are a terribly wealthy country that can afford to raise silly stuff. (cows do like pumpkin though) I think the net effect is good. Anything that keeps more cropland in use is a good thing. If needed, they can start to raise good useful stuff.

  • gwbnyc October 21, 2021, 2:25 PM

    Oh my Gourd!!

  • John Fisher October 21, 2021, 3:06 PM

    Linus is proud of the Great Pumpkin’s carbon footprint!

  • Arty October 21, 2021, 3:42 PM

    You either like pumpkins or you are wrong.

  • John A. Fleming October 21, 2021, 3:59 PM

    Pumpkins that don’t make it into food at my house all end up in the compost pile. The seeds all sprout and are then also composted. The seed shells are highly resistant to the aerobic composting process. The compost then ends up on my lawn and garden space. I’ve been doing that for 20 years. Someday, when somebody buys this house, they are buying many years of enriched soil My estate does not export nutrients, i.e I don’t throw out the leaves and food waste and grass clippings, they all get recycled. Pumpkins don’t go to waste at my house.

    Pumpkin and squashes are inherently a low-calorie vegetable, like zucchini. You can stuff yourself with pumpkins and be hungry again in an hour.

    I admit, carving pumpkins are pretty bland tasting. Pie pumpkins are a little better. At least the aroma is divine. It’s a fine line between tasty cooked crisp pumpkin and unpleasant mushy orange goo. I’ve tried several times over the years to find the magic. We had it once at a restaurant, so I know it’s possible. And my pumpkin pies are heavy on the pumpkin and light on the sugar. But my wife and kids still won’t eat them. Sigh

  • Mike Anderson October 21, 2021, 4:04 PM

    Pumpkin pie is a bit much for me. But pumpkin corn bread and pumpkin flan are big favorites at our house, and the recipes take canned pumpkin jest fine.

  • Sisu October 21, 2021, 4:21 PM

    Gerard,

    You as with all humans (including me) have some inconsistencies. … Why care about pumpkins and gourds ?

    I don’t like Anchovies, and hope I never need eat insects, … yet slavered in butter (heart unhealthy) the slugs and snails others serve but I would kill with toxins or by wasting salt are palatable. …

    And, are you, the former liberal protestor of the Tye-died generation, offended by others who tell you “What’s relevant and necessary?”, actually going to deny the local landowner capitalist an “easy buck”, when you earn fiat from your intangible “information” product ? A for-profit scheme with a “carbon foot-print” which is greater ?

    Let’s not forget the farmers provide for “free” (yes, they pay the real estate taxes; which they pass on to the consumer as a “direct cost”) the uncompensated benefit of absorbent earth which might capture the rainfall (Nature’s most basic nourishment.), while you are the cause of much need for electricity (how much which you use is “provide for free (save production, transportation, installation and decommissioning costs by ‘nature'”; CA purchases 35-40+% from other states so as not to … it’s all BS the “E” in “ESG”), spreading of rare earth materials from where “Mother Nature” herself accumulated those toxicities in order to deal with at “her (https://www.diversitycenterneo.org/about-us/pronouns/)” leisure ? …

    Your timing ? Isn’t that “insisting upon yourself ?”.

    And, how “Pinochet” of you to toss “gourds” from planes ?

    Leave the pumpkins and their lovers be. Perhaps there is one alive today, or yet in “our future” who will hear the truth “on the pumpkin vine”. (HT M. Gaye https://youtu.be/5ZnrZnFSlWU )

    And, then the enlightened will be heard saying: “Conch you hear it ?”

  • Dirk October 21, 2021, 5:38 PM

    Good with punkin anything,,,,,, after two bites of turkey, I’m done. Which reminds me, A-little birdie told us, to buy you birds early. Seems these food shortages will contribute to fewer turkeys after October.

    I’ll know for sure around December 1st.

    VI

    • ghostsniper October 21, 2021, 6:09 PM

      Ours has been napping in the freezer for about a month.
      Butterball breast, about 6 lbs. (thanks Monsanto!)
      There’s just the 2 of us so don’t need the whole bird.
      Before I threw it in the freezer I ran the metal detector all over it.
      Menu:
      Turkey
      Gravy
      Packaged mashed potatoes
      Stove top stuffing
      Canned yams with marshmallows
      Green beans with bacon bits
      Dinner rolls with budda
      A little can of cranberry sauce
      punkin py w/ cool whip

      That’s way more than we normally eat and frankly most of the stuff is only a spoons worth on our plates. Some of it will go bad in the fridge before we get to it and will be donated to the ‘coons in the woods. I run the nutrition show here on the estancia and that BIG day warps my scheduling for a week or so. By the time I get it back together Christmas rolls around and we do another epicurean extravaganza. I’ll be glad when it’s finally January. Snowy, cold, and dark.

      • Dirk October 22, 2021, 7:01 AM

        Over the years we’re started to get away from turkey, making a moist turkey, with taste these past ten years has been difficult. We’ve oil fried turkey, smoked turkey, baked turkey. Turkey just seems to NOT have the taste it did 15/20 years ago. Maybe it’s my tastebuds, I also hear folks mention the lack of taste in their store purchased turkeys. We have wild turkey locally, considered bagging one of those. Opted out.

        That said, we’ve gone to Prime Rib for Christmas, and a huge Ham. Red potatoes, “ grown down the road” with skins, wife like frozen cranberry’s over canned, ? I can’t tell the dif. Green salad and hand built dinner rolls.

        Anyway my wife picked up four HUGE turkeys recent past, told me the stores were allowing one turkey sales. More importantly, for me is the prime rib, a giant 20 pounder and a smaller ten/twelve pounder. Slow smoked. We’re adding fresh salmon at both thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

        Anymore, it’s the turkey soup after the holiday, I enjoy!

        I’m south in the mountains working on a private venture, snowing daily here, 6/7000 ft. Pouring rain today, we’ll for the rest of the day, weekend. Back in the 60s, next week. Cat has no top, so I’m taking a break.

        Have a good one.

        VI

        • ghostsniper October 22, 2021, 12:26 PM

          That’s what they make gravy for Dirk. I pour gravy all over the turkey, spuds, and stuffing. Everything goes down nice and smooth and very tasty. I got a thing about gravy. You may have a point though. They inject the turkeys with who knows what to make them so big, that there’s nothing there cept air. Plus, I heard, as people age they lose their taste for things. shrug dunno.

  • PA Cat October 21, 2021, 5:57 PM

    Well, Gerard, go ahead and mock the Halloween ritual of carving a pumpkin and putting a candle inside it to decorate the front porch. Some of my happiest memories of childhood are of helping my dad make the Halloween jack o’lantern. He’d ask me to draw the face on it, then cut out the eyes, nose, and mouth (with teeth), and last, set the candle inside (he was a purist; no electric light for him!), and ask me if I liked the finished pumpkin. We were always careful not to let the candle burn too long, and we could leave the pumpkin on the porch for a week or so because nobody stole things off people’s porches in those days, or smashed jack o’lanterns. Anyway, for me the Halloween pumpkin was, like putting up the Christmas lights or going sledding in the first snowfall, an opportunity to spend time with my dad. Those memories are still precious.

  • Pelayo October 21, 2021, 9:12 PM

    I add slices of pumpkin to soup and to ground beef dishes. It makes tasty and comforting food. Whether right or not, as an immigrant, I associate pumpkins with Americana. I like pumpkins.

    • gwbnyc October 22, 2021, 12:30 AM

      interesting&so noted.

      thx.

  • Anthony Gaudio October 22, 2021, 4:07 AM

    Tell us how you really feel. Don’t hold back.

  • Mike Austin October 22, 2021, 4:40 AM

    You can take my pumpkin pie from me if you can pry it from my cold, dead hands.

  • Hoss October 22, 2021, 6:36 AM

    Take a small pumpkin and after cleaning it out stuff it full with something akin to a meatloaf . You can mix in some ground sausage if you want and onions are a must. Season any way you wish. Bake at 300 for a couple of hours depending on the size of your pumpkin. Delicious.

  • Mike Austin October 22, 2021, 7:19 AM

    American Digest, turning into a cooking blog? Heaven forfend! Wait till Gerard writes about some random Chinese food. I’ll post my Kung Pao Chicken recipe. And General Tso’s. And Broccoli Chicken. Better have a large wok and rice cooker ready boys! And about $200 worth of Chinese ingredients readily at hand.

  • leelu October 22, 2021, 7:20 AM

    To be contrarian, pumpkin pie is one of my favorites, along with lemon creme.
    So. On All Saints’ Day, cut the pumpkin into chunks, and steam said chunks until the inside part (‘guts’) is soft. Scrape said guts; into a mixing bowl, add pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, nutmeg, & sugar as appropriate for the volume of guts or taste.
    Bake at 475 deg F for 15 minutes, then 375 deg for about 45 min. Done when nothing sticks to a knife stuck into the middle when pulled out.
    Serve with cream, whipped cream, or home made vanilla ice cream. (Recipe for *that* at the above listed blog.)

  • Auntie Analogue October 22, 2021, 2:45 PM

    It would seem, Mr. Van der Leun, that you are to the pumpkin as Sayyid Qutb was to the American lawn. Orange you two an unlikely pair!

    • Vanderleun October 22, 2021, 3:32 PM

      I resemble that remark.

  • Poor Richard October 23, 2021, 2:49 PM

    Love the snark in this article. Agree with it except I did find a use for pumpkin. I feed my mature cat pumpkin with his dry food to add fiber to his diet. He loves it. Other than that, can’t think of a single use for pumpkins.