Pumpkin, Gourds and Winter Squash: More than Fall Decorations

Pumpkin, Gourds and More

Bright and stout, these winter gourds and squash make good ornaments. Show them off and you'll done with them, turn them into culinary delights.
Bright and stout, these winter gourds and squash make good ornaments. Show them off and you'll done with them, turn them into culinary delights. | Source


As fall steals into the hues of nature—trees brazen with gold, orange, yellow and red, vegetables offer up their fall selection—pumpkin, gourds and winter squash. They come in different shapes and sizes, some fancy with variegated colors, others in graceful lines of slender lean shapes. We’re most familiar with pumpkin, making its presence on porches as Jack-O-Lantern or as a staple at Thanksgiving—the humble pumpkin pie. However, you may find other relatives of the pumpkin—all kinds of gourds and winter squash basking in the grocery light. They are all members of the cucurbitaceae family—a broad vine family that include the cucumbers and melons.

Since it’s not every day that you find these showy gourds and squash, it behooves us well to use them while we can. Apart from their good looks (many are showcased as ornaments), there are many more ways to use them.

Culinary Uses

You can’t go wrong with this group of fall vegetables—after all, they’re the oldest cultivated plants, dating back to the Egyptian times. Staples like pumpkin soup (delightful on cold days), cubes of buttersquash in vegetable broth, puree pumpkin used in pies, cakes or bread are true and tried. However, there are countless ways to enjoy gourds and squash and here are some more ways you can enjoy your winter fare:

Stuffed Them and Baked Them

Since gourds and winter squash are blessed with cavernous interior—just scoop out the seeds—they make excellent vessels for all kinds of good stuff. Good stuff like beans, meats, grains, nuts, dried fruits and vegetables. Make your favorite concoction and stuff it in—bake and enjoy.

Once you scooped out the seeds, the inside makes a natural cavity for stuffing.
Once you scooped out the seeds, the inside makes a natural cavity for stuffing. | Source

Try Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Too much work? You can still tap into the yummy goodness of gourds/squash by simply sprinkling spices and seasoning (once you seeded them) and bake. Flavorings that pair well include brown sugar, maple syrup, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, mace, ginger and curry. Bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for 45 minutes to an hour.


Make Salad Medley

When I was walking through Harrods Food Hall, London, I was attacked by food inspirations. One left an indelible scar on my memory: Hunks of roasted squash with equally chunky beets: the play of orange and luscious red held me captive.

Try Roasted Beet Salad

Figs add sweetness and texture to this salad.
Figs add sweetness and texture to this salad. | Source

Take one medium size Kabocha. Split it into halves. Scoop insides out.

Coconut Custard

  • One cup coconut milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence or pandan essence

Mix all the above thoroughly. Pour into cavities of Kabocha and bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for 45 mins to an hour.

Make Desserts


Ahh…we can all use a dessert or two, especially when the temperature dips and all you want to do is curl up with a good dessert and a steaming cuppa. Let the world rush on…you couldn’t care less.

Here’s one that I love and it’s totally easy to make: Kabocha squash with coconut custard.

See recipe in blue capsule.


Kabocha with coconut custard--a sweet connection.
Kabocha with coconut custard--a sweet connection. | Source


Most gourds have a hard exterior and they come in handy if you’re up to some creative challenge:

Gourd Garlands

Jack-O-Lanterns are much appreciated but they’re also predictable. How about wowing trick-or-treaters with your fancy gourd garlands? String them into pretty garlands. Intertwine the strand with some festive lights if you care. Sit back and enjoy. Your neighbors will do too.

Make it rustic, make it pop--gourd garland does just that.
Make it rustic, make it pop--gourd garland does just that. | Source

Candles


Sure, you can let candles from Pier I Imports do the work but imagine making candle holders out of fancy gourds/squash to add charm to your dining table? Or to create the magic of fall when friends come over? Or, make luminaries out of them—the yellow/orange interior exudes spooktacular appeal. Yes, just imagine….

Make magical lanterns out of them.
Make magical lanterns out of them. | Source
Eco-friendly and functional water bottle.
Eco-friendly and functional water bottle. | Source


Water Bottles

As a kid, I used to watch old Chinese movies where they almost always have some thirsty wayfaring travelers drinking from gourd bottles—their version of water bottles. That was before people realized that these natural vessels of gourd bottles are actually eco-friendly and very functional. Now, with the green rage, it can be really cool and chic to actually own one. And the good news, you can actually make one:

Here’s how: How to Make Gourd Bottles


Bird Feeder

Love to have birds in your backyards? Why not tempt them/lure them with your fancy-looking gourd feeder? If I were a bird, I’ll ditch any even remotely man-made ones just so I could hang out at yours.

Natural attraction--nature attracts nature, that's just how it works.
Natural attraction--nature attracts nature, that's just how it works. | Source


Moving on…we know that beauty experts are not going to let these vegetables escape their craft too. After all, pumpkins and squash are rich in nutrients (beta-carotene and zinc) and cell-regenerating vitamin A and C. Use it as a moisturizer, facial scrub or mask, pumpkin is quite the youth rejuvenator.

Pumpkin Facial Mask:

  • 2 tbsp of pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 2 tbsp of milk or yogurt

Mix well and apply to face. Leave for 10 minutes and rinse off with warm water.

Pumpkin and milk makes a wonderful skin rejuvenating mask.
Pumpkin and milk makes a wonderful skin rejuvenating mask. | Source


There are many more uses, of course. But let’s call it a day but before we end, don’t throw out the gut of the gourds/squash. The seeds can be used too. Just clean out the slime and stingy part that come with the seeds. Cool running water will do the trick.

Roast them at 325 degree Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. They make good healthy snacks.

Grind roasted pumpkin seeds until fine. Can be added to facial scrub to exfoliate skin.

Related read: Pumpkin: Super Fall Vegetable


Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.


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Comments 28 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

So many fabulous ideas! Thanks anginwu!


Cousin Fudd profile image

Cousin Fudd 5 years ago from From the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina

Great hub for fall and love those decorating ideas.


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 5 years ago

Beautiful ideas, beautiful hub ! I love the recipes ! I've never thought Pumpkin, Gourds and Winter Squash can be so wonderful. Human is ingenius, isn't it ?


kootheancheah profile image

kootheancheah 5 years ago from Penang, Malaysia

Anginwu,

Thanks for this beautiful piece. You make the most yukky food look most delicious, and the most ugly food look most pretty.

I can't imagine the taste of that roasted beet salad. Is it any good as it looks? Roasted beet?? Ugh...whatever will you come out with next.... ;-)


Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

This is so well-written and illustrated. Bookmarked! Voted up, useful, beautiful, interesting and AWESOME. I do admire your hard work--research and layout. My favorites are the gourd garland, the candles and the bird feeder. Ooooooh! I could take up making gourd garlands since the weather is getting colder. I think I could handle stringing gourds.


whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 5 years ago from United States

A wonderful hub about the autumn time and the special feelings of this time of the year.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Thank you, RTalloni, for being the first here. Glad you find it useful.

Cousin Fudd, thanks for the comment. Yay, fall is finally here.


gailalovesbijou profile image

gailalovesbijou 5 years ago from Wyomissing, PA

Excellent hub packed with beautiful photos and useful information. You inspire me. Thank you!


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi anginwu, what a fabulous article and great ideas.

I am certainly going to make the water bottle, that is so neat!

It may take me a while to pluck up the courage for the pumpkin mask though...

Excellent hub, loved it and voting up!


NarayanKrishna profile image

NarayanKrishna 5 years ago from The country of Mount Everest

Thank you. Very good information. I like the hub.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

I love the gourd garland and the gourd bird feeder! That garland is so beautiful, I think I'm inspired to try to make it myself. Voted up!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Ingenira, you're ingenious--pumpkin, gourds and winter squash can be very tasty and they're totally gifted. I love kabocha sauteed with soya sauce and a touch of sugar.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

kootheancheah, I know roasted beet doesn't sound like a culinary delight but give it a try--roasting veggies make them sweeter and more intense in flavor. Thanks for dropping by to comment. Appreciate that:)

Arlene, you crack me up. First basket weaving and now, you've found your vocation--gourd stringing--i think that suits you well--maybe? Haha--appreciate your comments and always good to hear from you.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Thanks, whounnowho, appreciate your comments.

Gailalovesbijou, thanks for stopping by to comment.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Thanks, Movie Master, for your kind comments. I think the gourd water bottle is very cool too. In fact, I tried to make them when I was a child (inspired by the Chinese movies) but was not quite successful. Take care and enjoy your day.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Wow...I love all information about pumpkin. Delicious food and beautiful decorations from pumpkin. Thanks for writing and share with us. I also enjoy all stunning pictures. Well done, my friend. VOTE UP!

Prasetio


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Narayankrishna, glad u like the hub.

Stephhicks, I'm sure you'll have fun making the gourd garland and bird feeder. Thanks again for dropping by to comment.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Thanks, Prasetio, always good to hear from you. Glad you like the pumpkin hub. I enjoyed putting this together.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

Cute, cute, cute! The candle and bird feeder ideas are very creative. Also, I think I'm going to try the pumpkin facial mask for sure!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Om, after your lovely hair do-over (love it by the way), you just need the mask to complete the beauty routine. Always happy to hear from you.


carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg

Gourds are the most interesting looking things, they look like statues someone makes for decorations, hard to believe they actually grow that way, quite beautiful! Thanks for sharing.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

thanks, carco, for dropping by to comment. I agree--gourds are intersting-looking--hour-glass or pudgy, they're quite adorable.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I never thought of baking a custard into a winter squash. What a fabulous idea! I have never seen kabocha here (although my local Asian market may surprise me one day), but I think this would work beautifully with butternut or acorn squash, or pumpkin. Thanks so much for this outstanding Hub about celebrating these gorgeous gifts of the autumn season.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Sally's Trove, you can find kabocha in the Korean or Asian supermarket. It is delicious with the custard. Thanks for dropping by to comment.


Haley 4 years ago

The Kabocha Coconut Custard looks amazing. Would it still turn out firm if i use the carton coconut milk? or does it have to be the full fat kind?


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Haley, is the carton coconut milk Kara or is it the low-fat kind? I haven't tried any low-fat version yet but actually the fat in coconut milk is now considered healthy where it once was ocnsidered unhealthy. Personally, I think the taste would not be as rich with low-fat coconut milk. Thanks for commenting.


Haley 4 years ago

I absolutely agree, and believe in a high fat (good fat) diet! However, all I have on me currently is the "So Delicious" carton coconut milk, which has 5g of fat per serving, so it is relatively low in fat. I just thought maybe it wouldn't stick because of a lack of thickness.

Thanks so much for your reply, I just saw it!:)


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Thanks, Haley, for checking back. Did it work out for you then, the low-fat coconut milk. I know for sure, the taste would be as rich. Have a good day.

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