News & Politics

How to Cook and Eat Fall Gourds

They're not only decorative, you know.

In the fall—prime time for pumpkin and squash—the farm stand at Butler’s Orchard in Germantown can look like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Here are some of the wonders of nature we found one autumn day.

Long Neck Pumpkin

A swan-like neck and hefty size—it can grow to 20 pounds—distinguish this versatile heirloom beauty, also known as Pennsylvania Dutch crookneck squash. Best for baking and pies.

Cinderella Pumpkin

One of the prettiest pumpkins on the stand, this French heirloom variety is named after the fairy-tale heroine’s carriage-turned-pumpkin. Best for canning and pies.

Australian Blue Pumpkin

Pale blue outside, brilliant orange inside, this stunner has an extremely long shelf life—it can last up to a year. Best for roasting, soups, and muffins.

Carnival Squash

This cross between acorn and sweet dumpling squashes, which looks as if it’s been showered with confetti, is one of the sweeter varieties. Best for baking, steaming, and soups.

Buttercup Squash

This turban-shaped squash’s meat is so sugary it can sub for sweet potatoes. Look for the heaviest ones with the thickest skins. Best for baking, mashing, and soups.

Peanut Pumpkin

This variety, the pug of the pumpkin family, is loved for its odd exterior: Excess sugar causes its skin to crack and peanut-shell-shaped warts to form. Best for breads and purées.

Baby Boo Pumpkin

Although edible, this tiny, ghostly white orb seems made for a Martha Stewart-approved centerpiece. Best way to serve: Hollow it out and fill it with custard or ice cream.

Spaghetti Squash

Bright-yellow flesh that breaks into noodle-like strands makes this popular squash stand out. If you’re cooking, seek out the bigger ones. Best for roasting and salads.

Photographs by Erik Uecke.

This article appears in the November 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.