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Toledo Farmers Market

September 20, 2013
By Dawn Troutner - Toledo Market Master , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Market report -Friday, Sept 13.

Friday the 13th didn't stop Kristi, Devin, Larry and Caryn, Darold and Ruth, Dale, Chuck and Ginger, Dawn, Sheryl, Marie and Brenda, the Nieland girls, Shirley, Freddie and Michael, Jim, and Karen from setting up their tables. It didn't stop the crowd at the beginning of market either. Some of the items available this week: okra, green peppers, hot peppers, honey dew, watermelons, cantaloupe, onions, beets, cabbage, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, honey, jams, jellies, cucumbers, eggplant, Bohemie plums, peaches, caramel corn, snack mixes, bakery, ceramics, candles, eggs, turkey feathers, leather goods, winter squash, and pumpkins. There are only a few weeks of market left so be sure to mark your calendars for Fridays from 5-7 p.m. to visit the Toledo Farmers Market.

There was a beautiful pumpkin at market Friday night. I didn't ask what it weighed, but it was a large, tall pumpkin with at very thick stem. It would have been a great carving pumpkin or even one to sit on your front step to greet visitors. The bright orange color of pumpkins tells you that a pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to vitamin A, beta-carotene performs many important functions in overall health.

Article Photos

Dawn Troutner
Toledo Market Master

Pumpkins are grown primarily for processing with a small percentage grown for ornamental sales through you-pick farms, farmers markets and retail sales. Around 90- 95% of the processed pumpkins in the United Sates are grown in Illinois. Pumpkin contains potassium and Vitamin A. Pumpkins are used for feed for animals. Pumpkin flowers are edible. Pumpkin flowers have a lovely sweet mild pumpkin flavor. Pick them early n the morning when they are in full bloom. Place in ziplock bag and keep in the refrigerator to keep fresh. Wash and dry carefully-a salad spinner works best. Eat them in a salad, or toss salad greens with a light dressing. Toss ripped flowers on top of greens. It looks beautiful and tastes delicious. But only pick the male flowers, the female flowers have a tiny pumpkin at the base. Pumpkins are used to make soups, pies, and breads. The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake. Now how would you haul that to market?

Pumpkins are members of the vine crops family called cucurbits. The Connecticut field variety is the traditional American pumpkin. Pumpkins are 90% water. Pumpkins are a fruit. Pumpkins originated in Central America. In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling. Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites. Why would anyone want to get rid of those cute freckles? In colonial times, Native Americans roasted long strips of pumpkin in an open fire. Colonists sliced off pumpkin tops, removed seeds, and filled the insides with milk, spices, and honey. This was then baked in hot ashes and is the origin of pumpkin pie. Native Americans flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats. Native Americans also used the pumpkin seeds for food and medicine.

If you would like to eat the pumpkin seeds, place the mass of pumpkin seeds in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds from the other pumpkin stuff. Measure the pumpkin seeds in a cup measure. Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the pan for every half cup of pumpkin seeds. Add more salt if you would like your seeds to be saltier. Bring the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil, about a tablespoon. Spread the seeds out over the roasting pan in a single layer. Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. Watch so you don't over toast them. When nicely browned, remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack. You can crack to either remove the inner seed or eat whole. Enjoy and see you at market.



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