[Market-farming] Pie Pumpkins and "yams"

Road's End Farm organic87 at frontiernet.net
Tue Nov 3 08:56:22 EST 2009


On Nov 3, 2009, at 7:54 AM, Bill Shoemaker wrote:

>>   Also it seems there is some dispute as to what species a
>>   squash can belong to be called a true pumpkin but
>>   nobody seems to agree about that either.
>
> I think it comes down to tensions between popular use and botanical 
> criteria. As Bob mentioned yesterday there are botanical criteria one 
> can point to that distinguish species. There are three natural 
> species; pepo, moschata and maxima, plus a hybrid species; mixta. But 
> popular usage has less clear lines of distinction. Jack o'lanterns are 
> C. pepo, but so are zucchini and acorn squash. But then there are 
> squash from the C. moschata species; butternut. There are also squash 
> from the C. maxima family; buttercup. But there are also C. maxima 
> pumpkins, like Atlantic Giant. However some people call those squash.

It's my impression that there is no botanical distinction between 
pumpkins and squash; that the distinction is entirely popular usage, 
and is pretty much a matter of "I know it when I see it!" in that 
winter squash of certain shapes and colors gets called pumpkin. There's 
enough variation in shape and color of "pumpkins" to make things really 
confusing, though -- "Long Pie", for instance, which is the shape of 
overgrown zucchini and also, at harvest, more the color of zucchini; I 
would guess it gets called a "pumpkin" partly because it turns orange 
in storage and partly because people made/make "pumpkin" pie out of it.

The Fedco catalogue lists "pumpkins" in pepo, maxima, and moschata 
families.

While we're at it: I know that no sweet potatoes are really yams. But 
can anybody explain to me which varieties of sweet potatoes are 
entitled to be called yams in the United States market? (Part of the 
problem I've had is that customers seem to disagree on the 
characteristics of "yams"; some say it's the paler and/or dryer 
varieties, some say it's the more orange and/or moister varieties. I'm 
curious as to whether those on the list are in agreement on this 
subject, or whether I'll also get inconsistent opinions here.)

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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