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Go beyond orange to the wacky, warty wild side of the squash family

First Published Oct 23 2013 10:45AM      Last Updated Oct 28 2013 09:41 am

(Keith Johnson | Tribune file photo) Margaret King admires the variety of gourds for sale at the Wilkerson Farm stand at the downtown Farmer's Market at Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake City. This season's last Saturday market is this weekend.

Pumpkins lure us with both mystery and a childlike anticipation of fun. Wreathed in folklore or encrusted in flaky pastry, this vegetable defines the end-of-year holidays, whether you’re a savvy decorator looking for the latest fashion or a kid at heart looking for the perfect jack-o’-lantern.

So let’s tramp out to where style meets squash: the pumpkin patch. Because a pumpkin display can be — should be — anything but monochromatic.

You can go for eerie stripes, spooky creams, screaming reds, wild warts, fissures, grooves and wrinkles — and sizes from giant to smaller than a newborn kitten. In pumpkins, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and ways to celebrate the squash include everything from eating it to launching it via catapult. You can carve it into ghostly sculptures or use it as the centerpiece of graceful fall décor.



Most people still love the traditional orange round for jack-o-lantern carving. For this purpose, seek out the heirlooms Howden or Connecticut Field, which set the standard in tall, full-figured squash. Or go for Wolf, with its stout peduncle (that’s pumpkin-geek-speak for stem).

But if you’re searching for a Samhain twist, there’s a world of pumpkin novelty as close as your nearest farmer’s market or pumpkin patch.

Jarrahdale

The look » The deeply ribbed, smooth, blue-gray skin and flat profile of this New Zealand heirloom will have your visitors stopping to take a closer look. Other than the color, it has the shape of a traditional orange pumpkin.

Why you want it » Exceptional in fall decorations, it pairs well with the strong reds of Rouge vif d’Etampes.

Rouge vif d’Etampes

The look » Traditional elegance in a firehouse-red pumpkin.

Why you want it » This French heirloom was the most popular market pumpkin in 1880s France and the inspiration for Cinderella’s coach. With its deep ribs and flattened profile, it’s eye-catching on fall porches.

Rouge vif d’Etampes

The look » Traditional elegance in a firehouse-red pumpkin.

Why you want it » This French heirloom was the most popular market pumpkin in 1880s France and the inspiration for Cinderella’s coach. With its deep ribs and flattened profile, it’s eye-catching on fall porches.

Musquee de Provence

The look » Deeply ribbed, dusky dark green splashed with orange, turning to brownish orange when mature.

Why you want it » Irregular shape screams "heirloom chic"; flesh of mature pumpkin makes chefs wallow in superlatives; French accent practice.

Porcelain Doll

 

 

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