tried writing another nerdy blog, this time about pumpkins. You know, the flavour compounds, the physical structure of the beast, the long and exciting history. Nothing grabbed me. “Pumpkins are related to gourds.” Mmm snore.
When it comes down to it, the most exciting thing about pumpkins is eating them in one form or another. This is the first in a series discussing buying, eating and drinking our favourite autumn cucurbita.
There are all different kinds of pumpkins, and how you buy depends on your purpose. Are you making a jack o'lantern, soup, or simply decorating your home?
Foodland Ontario offers a concise guide to buying your next pumpkin:
For Halloween pumpkins, look for a sturdy stem, well-rounded shape and one that will stand properly, but is not too heavy.
For cooking, small pie pumpkins are best. Look for a firm, smooth orange skin with a heavy feel for its size. Avoid cracks and bruises, which can bring on premature deterioration. Small to medium sizes are best for kitchen use because of their finer texture and flavour.
Not surprising, Martha Stewart does too (I'll admit. I'm kind of in love with that site.)
As we all know, living in the Greater Golden Horseshoe at this time of year affords us many tasty and aesthetic luxuries. On the flipside, supermarkets are dull. So lets do what everyone’s been telling us to do, and meet our farmer! You can literally take your pick at any number of Greenbelt family farms to find your perfect pumpkin. A quick search of Greenbeltfresh.ca came up with 26 family farms.
These are just a few of many great Greenbelt farms close to Toronto and Hamilton that are worth spending a day at. What are your favourites?
Close to Toronto, with driving times from downtown
Albion Orchards, Caledon, 57 min
Features a you-pick for pumpkins and 12 kinds of apples, as well as wagon rides, and Christmas trees in December.
Applewood Farm Winery, Stouffville, 41 min
While picking your next Jack O’Lantern, you might as well pick wine for dinner and apples for dessert. Also features a petting zoo and corn maze for the delight of children and adults alike! Maybe that’s just me.
Berryview Farm, Inglewood, 48 min
The folks at Berryview are proud to proclaim that everything they sell, they grow. This includes unpasteurized honey, 13 kinds of apples, cider, gourds and a variety of pumpkins.
Farintosh Farms, Gormley, 35 min
Their beautiful website features a ‘ripening calendar’ so you can easily see what’s in season for your picking pleasure, as well as a great blog that proclaims that their 2011 garlic crop is “by far and away their best quality yet.“
Pine Farms Orchard, King City, 50 min
Pine Farms is an apple orchard dating back to the 1950’s. They make their own fruit wine and cider, as well as running a farm market where you can satisfy all your pumpkin needs.
Puck’s Farm, Schomberg, 1 hr 5min
This farm packs a punch. On top of The Amazing Maze, and lots of baby animals, every weekend in October there’s a midway with a huge slide, the Gravitron, a haunted barn and of course, ‘thousands of pumpkins.’
Whittamore’s Farm, Markham, 40 min
“Pumpkinland” runs until October 31st, featuring wagon rides, a Pumpkin Cannon show and a Haunted Forest.
Close to Hamilton, with driving times from downtown
Carluke Orchards, Ancaster, 24 min
Winner of the 2011 Hamilton Community News Readers Choice Gold Award. That should be enough for you to check out their pumpkin and apple you-pick, booming pie business and wagon rides through the orchards.
JB Puddicombe and Sons Ltd, Winona, 29 min
This is a farm with some serious history as well as a seriously cool train. They also seem to have a you-pick and market for every one of my favourites: cherries, raspberries, plums, peaches, apples and pumpkins. Another great feature is a winery with several different themed tasting options.
Parkside Farms, Waterdown, 21 min
“I did not choose the pumpkins, the pumpkins chose me!” – Farmer Ben. Now that’s commitment to your gourd.
Stonehaven Farm Market, Campbellville, 34 min
Although Stonehaven is a fairly large producer, supplying to several major grocery stores, they still feature all the homey attractions you’ve come to expect from family farms including a corn maze and a market with fresh baked pies and you-know-what. They’re also wheelchair accessible.
-Emma Berrigan, Communications Assistant