When growing pumpkins, it's a policy around our place to try a newly released or unusual vegetable each year. That's how we came to know "Lady Godiva ... the pumpkin with naked seeds."
My family has always loved the taste of pumpkin seeds (either as a healthy at-home snack or for "backpacking power" out on the trail), but the typically sharp-edged, leather-hard hulls really dampened our enthusiasm for the autumn treat.
Lady Godiva has changed all that! This hybrid pumpkin features naked pumpkin seeds or seeds whose shells have been bred down to a light cellophane-like film. In the four years since we discovered Lady G. we've never grown any other kind of pumpkin.
Of course, the naked-seeded jack-o-lantern does have some drawbacks. If you like a rich, golden-colored pumpkin, for instance, you'll have to look elsewhere. Godiva's hue, even when ripe, is a yellow with pale green stripes. This fruit is also more thin-skinned and just a little less tasty than other pumpkins we've grown ... though nobody will turn their nose up at a Lady Godiva pie! On the positive side, however, Lady G. pumpkins will keep (when stored at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit) for about three months.
We don't can pumpkin "flesh" (though we do dry some for soups), so we're only able to use about 40 of the 4- to 6-pound globes each year ... (including the not-so-mature or slightly spoiled pumpkins that go to our chickens after we've plundered the seeds).
It takes about 20 pumpkins to produce 1 pound of cleaned seed.
"Pumpkin nuts," also known as seeds, can be a real chore to separate from the fruit's stringy innards, unless you know how! Consider your pumpkin like a globe (the stem marks north) and slice around the "equator." Then, find the three (or sometimes four) pairs of seed rows that are arranged around the inner center of each "hemisphere," reach in along the outside of these rows, and – with the tips of your fingers — "milk" the seeds from their clinging umbilical fibers. This maneuver makes seed collecting clean and easy!
Whenever we harvest a bunch of pumpkins (about once a week during the season), we put the seeds on a drying rack on top of the stove and put the halved, hollow fruits in the oven.
Once the pumpkin halves are baked (they need about an hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit) we scoop out the flesh and run it through a colander. The stringy stuff that doesn't strain through becomes worm and chicken feed. The rest is ready for pie, bread or cake baking.
What about the seeds? Only about half of 'em ever get the chance to dry fully, because a lot are eaten plain ... and even more are fried or baked — in a little oil — until they "puff," then we serve them with a dash of salt.
Most seed companies have one or more naked pumpkin seed pumpkins in their lineup. In fact, we've decided to try one of the new breeds this year. After all, the updated varieties might prove to be every bit as "revealing" as Lady Godiva was!
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