What can you make with pumpkin and squash? Discover the various kinds in France, how to choose and prepare them, and links to healthy French pumpkin or squash recipes.
High season: October – December; Those harvested during this time can last all winter.
Random Facts about Pumpkins in France
- From the winter squash family, pumpkins are either round or ribbed. Their pulp is yellow or orange with either yellow, orange or green thick skins. Skins are normally discarded but potimarron (chestnut or Hokkaido Red Kuri squash) skin is edible);
- The pulp, central seeds and strands removed, is eaten cooked mainly in soups, gratins, tarts and as a purée (see recipes below);
- Pumpkins and squash date back to c. 6000BC from Mexico but were not introduced into Europe until the 16th Century by the Portuguese. Before this time, squash didn’t have different varieties until 1860 when botanist, Charles Naudin established 20 varieties;
- Although considered a vegetable, botanically speaking, squashes are fruits as they have seeds. Their taste is naturally sweet, so add sugar with care – especially for butternut squash, which is sweeter than other varieties;
- According to Aprifel, pumpkins or squash are healthy: high in fibre, potassium, vitamin B5 and provitamin A betacarotene;
- Mini pumpkins, known as Jack-be-Little are also known as Pomarine in France, although they originated in Colorado, USA. They’re great for stuffing! See my quick recipe for mini stuffed pumpkins;
- How to choose best pumpkins or squash: the harder the skin the better. If a pumpkin is soft in any way, avoid it! Also choose still with the stalk (pédoncule) still intact, as they will last much longer in a cool, dark place;
- Squash or pumpkins are delicious in savoury dishes paired with sage, mushrooms, apple, chicken or pork (bacon), walnuts and chestnuts.
What Can I Make With Pumpkin?
Fall for all sorts of easy pumpkin recipes:
- Stuffed mini pumpkins;
- comforting pots of Pumpkin, Leek and Ginger Soup,
- Butternut Walnut Gratin, and
- Savoury Pumpkin Tart with Mushrooms and Chestnuts, one of our family favourites;
- Why not even make pumpkin spiced macarons with real pumpkin!
What’s more, the French love the Potimarron. It’s the tough, thicker orange-reddish-skinned round pumpkin that even tastes nutty like a chestnut and the skin is edible once cooked. Known as onion squash in the UK, Japanese or Red Kuri Squash, it’s less watery, and – crikey, call me mad, but I’ve also made Red Kuri Squash macarons! Then there are the smallest, cute mini pumpkins called Jack-Be-Little or Pomarine in French.