Five things to do with fall’s favorite fruit: here are numbers three, four and five

The bright orange squash is delicious eaten, sipped, plus one surprise use

Today's expression: Look forward to
Explore more: Lesson #309
November 5, 2020:

In part two on fall’s favorite fruit, we’re sharing how pumpkin is eaten, sipped, and one surprise use. From snacks to desserts to drinks, pumpkin is a versatile ingredient in fall recipes. It has even created a near cult-following for a seasonal Starbucks drink. Warning: this episode could make you hungry. Plus, learn “look forward to.”

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Five things to do with fall’s favorite fruit: here are numbers three, four and five

Lesson summary

Hi there, I’m Jeff; JR is the producer; and we are ready to dive right into Plain English lesson number 309. Remember you can find the full lesson online at PlainEnglish.com/309.

We’ll pick up where we left off on Monday, with our list of things to do with fall’s favorite fruit, the pumpkin. On Monday, I described how to carve a Halloween pumpkin, and that took up most of the lesson. My intention had been to do this topic in just one lesson, but I got on a roll. So here we are in the second half of a two-part lesson on pumpkins. Because there’s nothing else more important going on in the world!

Pumpkins, continued…

Number three on our list of things to do with a pumpkin: you can eat it. But it’s not that simple. The texture, as I described on Monday, is stringy and slimy. It’s not very appetizing when it’s fresh. The flavor is good, but the texture is gross. And for that reason alone, I think, a pumpkin is not something you would typically take home and cook in the kitchen. It would be messy, a lot of work, and just not worth it. Most of us buy pumpkin in a can. When it comes in a can, it’s steamed and pureed, and ready to be used as an ingredient in another recipe.

What would some of those other recipes be? The two most popular pumpkin recipes are probably soup and pie. Pumpkin soup is chicken broth with cream and pureed pumpkin. It’s simple—not a lot of ingredients, but it’s good to accompany a fall meal. You can even serve it inside a small little pumpkin. I saw that once. Start with a decorative pumpkin, carve it open, clear out the inside, and then pour the soup in—and you have a ready-made compostable soup bowl.

Pumpkin pie is more work, but definitely worth it. You would typically add sugar, eggs, cream, the pumpkin puree (obviously) and some nice fall spices like nutmeg, ginger or cinnamon. Pour that onto a pie crust, bake it up, and you have a classic fall dessert. Pumpkin pie is a favorite on many American Thanksgiving tables, including whatever table I’m sitting at—I make sure of it.

Pumpkin pasta sauce is good. I like that around this time of year; a grocery store near me sells it in jars. Pumpkin pasta sauce is half tomatoes, half pumpkin puree. It’s orange and tastes primarily of pumpkin: it’s good over ravioli or stuffed shells or other heartier pasta dishes.

You can also make pumpkin bread; that’s popular at Starbucks and coffee shops this time of year. Pumpkin doughnuts are good, too. What else? I like to make pumpkin mashed potatoes. You just make mashed potatoes the way you normally would, and add some pumpkin puree and you get a light-orange, delicious side dish.

Let’s not forget the seeds. A typical pumpkin has about 500 seeds and it’s common to roast them at home after you carve your Halloween pumpkin. Pumpkin seeds are good for you—fatty, like most seeds, but they have a lot of protein, too. All you have to do is separate the seeds from the stringy flesh of the pumpkin, boil them a little, and then roast them in the oven for a few minutes with some salt.

Number four on the list of things to do with a pumpkin: You can also drink your pumpkin, especially at Starbucks. Their most popular seasonal drink is called the Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s espresso, steamed milk, pumpkin syrup, and a tantalizing combination of fall spices. This is the seventeenth year that Starbucks has offered this drink and—I’m not joking—Starbucks drinkers look forward to it every year. Starbucks makes an event out of the first day that’s the Pumpkin Spice Latte available. This year, it went on sale August 25, the earliest it has ever been available. I checked to see if they have it in other countries and I saw they do offer the Pumpkin Spice Latte in Mexico and they have it in Europe, too.

You will occasionally see a pumpkin martini or other pumpkin cocktail recipes. They make pumpkin-flavored beer. I like craft beer and I have to say, I enjoy pumpkin-flavored beer. I won’t want to drink it all year round, but I’ll have a few pumpkin beers every fall.

So where does that leave us on our list? Pick them, carve them. You can eat them. You can drink them. That means there’s one more thing you can do with your pumpkins in the fall. You can throw them.

Pumpkin chucking is a sport in which you try to throw a pumpkin as far as possible using only mechanical means. The most famous pumpkin chucking competition is in Delaware, but they also have them in New York State and Pennsylvania and other areas. In pumpkin chucking, you’re not throwing a pumpkin with your hands, but you’re not firing it out of a cannon either. The sport is about designing a mechanical contraption that will toss a pumpkin as far as possible. The most common designs are slingshots and catapults.

There are a few other rules. The pumpkin must remain intact as it flies through the air for a toss to count in the competition. In other words, it can only explode when it hits the ground. If it comes apart in the air, then it’s disqualified. Those are called pumpkin pies.

The world record longest pumpkin toss was—listen to this—5,545 feet. Most of you are more familiar with meters—it’s 1,690 meters. That’s almost two kilometers! Someone tossed a pumpkin almost two kilometers in the Utah desert. Good wholesome fun!

An all-American tradition?

If you’re shaking your head thinking, this is something only Americans could possibly do—don’t speak too soon. There is also a pumpkin tossing contest in Belgium.

I have never tossed a pumpkin. But I have carved my fair share; not lately, but I have. And pumpkin seeds are good; I would say that’s my favorite part. That, and the pumpkin smelling candles—those are also good.

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Expression: Look forward to