The 56-pound pumpkin

October 25, 2011

October around the Bay Area means clear days, cold nights, and gorgeous produce. The neighbors had planted some pumpkin seeds in the spring in the center of an old Bay Laurel stump, fed with chicken and horse manure. Months later, out came ten giant Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkins, better known as Cinderella pumpkins, ranging in weight from 20 to 56 pounds.

The largest of the beasts dwarfed my torso as I lugged it up the hill into a wheelbarrow.

56 pound Cinderella Pumpkin, Rouge Vif d'Etampes
You can see a variety of its cousins of both the Cinderella and sugar varieties.

How do you cut open a pumpkin of this size? Normal kitchen knives won’t cut it (haw).

Sawzalling the Rouge Vif d'Etampes
A reciprocating saw, like a Sawzall, is generally the best choice. Ear and eye protection necessary.

What’s this pumpkin like inside?

Gutting
For its size, the Cinderella pumpkins have a very small seed cavity that’s not as gooey as a sugar pumpkin, making it easy to clean.

The flesh is somewhat like that of a spaghetti squash in that it’s stringy.

Three slices
However, it’s sweet enough to eat raw.

It took the course of several days to properly chop, bake, and peel the ribs of this pumpkin.

Half the pumpkin produced about 12 pints of puree
This single squash resulted in about 2-3 gallons of puree, which turned into pies, curries, soups, omelets, more pies, custards, soufflés… For scale, the 20-pound sibling of this 56-pounder turned into 13 pies. I worry I’ll turn orange from eating so much pumpkin. Happy harvest holidays!

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