I think it’s a shame that pumpkins get hijacked by Halloween. Although they make a brief comeback for Thanksgiving in pie form, their curtain call comes much too early in the season. So what’s a pumpkin-loving girl supposed to do? This one makes a quick shift to other members of the Cucurbitaceae family: gourds and various winter squash. They don’t put me in a dizzy swoon quite the same way pumpkins do, but they’ll suffice. Gourds are great for cool-weather crafts, and winter squash will supply the awesome fodder for delicious dishes all the way until strawberry time (known by some as “spring”).
Gourds and squash are actually fruits by botanical definition–but because they are treated more like a vegetable than a dessert, they are typically considered vegetables. Most commonly, gourds are the product of the species Lagenaria siceraria (the calabash or African bottle gourd), native to Africa. This species is thought by many to be the oldest plant domesticated by humans.
Some gourds are put to culinary application, but most are used in the form of a vessel; think bowls, bottles, yerba mate cups, musical instruments, and birdhouses. Winter squash is used more for food than decoration. Following are ideas for ways to use both.