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Pumpkinpalooza – All About Michigan Pumpkins

Sincere pumpkin patch by Larry the BikerAbout this photo, Larry the Biker writes “Linus may have found his spot in Bruce Township, Michigan. A farmer told me once that Macomb County, Michigan is one of the largest producers of pumpkins in the United States.”

Kathy Siler of the Michigan Ag Council has a great article entitled In Search of the Great Michigan Pumpkin that notes that US Department of Agriculture’s statistics for 2010 ranked Michigan second in the nation with 7,400 acres of pumpkins planted. She also tells the centuries old legend of Stingy Jack, the Irish cheapskate who gave the name to the Jack-o-lantern and shares a lot information, including a recipe for Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie. While we are a big producer, the Kalamazoo News says that the 2011 pumpkin crop is a little smaller than usual, so today might be a good day to head to your local pumpkin patch!

The best listing we found is at Pumpkin Patches and more. Taste the Local Difference has a nice list of northern Michigan pumpkin farms and notes that in early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling. We’ll explore that in the Absolute Michigan kitchens and report! Their Pumpkin page has more facts including:

  • Pumpkins are a nutritious, low-fat, low-calorie food.
  • They are high in potassium and Vitamin A and are also a good source of beta-carotene.
  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, copper and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.
  • There are many varieties of pumpkins besides the standard Jack-O-Lantern and pie pumpkins. Some especially fun ones are Jack B. Little miniatures, white pumpkins, Australian Blues, and Atlantic Giants.
  • Pumpkins were once believed to eliminate freckles and were used as a remedy for snakebites.

Click through for more and a slew of great pumpkin recipes including Pumpkin ButterPumpkin Nachos (seriously), Pumpkin Thyme Rigatoni, and Potage au Potiron, a delicious soup made in the pumpkin! Pumpkins aren’t just for eating – some of Michigan’s brewmasters have brewed up some pumpkin ales. Click that link for a list and don’t forget about Jolly Pumpkin and their La Parcela Pumpkin Ale!

Of course the main use of pumpkins at this time of year is carving, and Michigan has some incredible artisans including “Pumpkin Ed” Moody, a specialist in giant pumpkin carving. Click the photo to see some of his work and also to learn about his new project, Karving for Kids that will allow Ed to carve for kids at Children’s Hospitals around the country. You can see another astonishing pumpkin carver in action in the video below!

Much more pumpkiny goodness at Absolute Michigan keyword pumpkin!

As promised, here’s a CBS News video of Michigan master carver Ray Villafane – this guy’s work is jaw-dropping!