Was Cinderella’s Coach Blue?



My daughter Grace plants the orange pumpkins in our household, which are used for Jack-o'-lanterns.

I plant for flavor, and I am a blue-green convert.  The most delicious of all pumpkins, in my opinion, is an Australian variety called 'Jarrahdale', the smoother-skinned, lighter blue variety in the photo above. 

Cut it open, and it has beautiful orange walls, super-thick, with a relatively small seed cavity.  And most important for pies is the fact that it is not watery or stringy: custards are ruined by watery or stringy pumpkin.  It roasts up perfectly creamy, with a sweet pure flavor.  (If you have never tasted pie made with homegrown pumpkin, you have not tasted pumkin pie.  It bears no resemblance to the leaden pie made with canned pumpkin.)

This year, I also planted a variety I ordered from Seeds from Italy called 'Marina di Chioggia' that I am suddenly seeing everywhere, in every seed catalog and gardening magazine. 

Clearly, that's because it is so unbelievably photogenic, it's practically a supermodel or David Beckham: really, really big, really, really warty, really, really blue with a bit of a turbanesque bottom.  It's also a really productive garden plant.  I got a nice haul from just two vines. I just cooked up my first 'Marina di Chioggia', which weighed so much, I could hardly lift the thing out of the cellar.  Delicious, but different than 'Jarrahdale'.  It's browner when cooked, with a slightly heavier, more sweet-potatoish texture.  And since the great Elizabeth Schneider of the encyclopedia Vegetables From Amaranth to Zucchini informs me that pumpkins can have a chestnut flavor, I'll hazard this thought: It tastes like chestnuts.

Pumpkins are a wonderful in that they are easy to store.  Unlike a lot of vegetables, they won't object to warm temperatures and will last a long time even on a countertop–longer, if you put them in the basement. 

They are easy to store after they're cooked, too.  You might get four pies out of a single pumpkin, but it you are not making four pies, roasted pumpkin freezes really well.  I'll often just lazily shove an entire quarter of roasted pumpkin, skin and all, into a bag and into the freezer.

I use pumpkins mainly for soup, pies, and risotto with prosciutto.  My friend Martha, a former chef, has been experimenting with savory custards for her 'Jarrahdales.'  I was at dinner two weeks ago when she served one made with wild mushrooms.  Spectacular.

The only problem with pumpkins in the garden–other than their typical cucurbit unwillingness to do anything until the soil has warmed up–is the amount of space they require.  In a small garden, they will gladly overrun everything, with their giant leaves and ropelike vines. 

I've been kicking mine out of the garden in recent years, into a meadow where the weeds are either beaten down from sitting under my mulch pile or mowed once by my husband.  I'll expose a little soil with a pick, make little mounds for the seeds, mulch around them with a lot of hay, and then forget about them all summer.  I have to hunt for the pumpkins among the goldenrod and Joe Pye Weed in early October, but they are always there.


  1. I too am a big fan of all the exotic Cucurbits…they are so beautiful to look at, and am now beginning to realize how much more tasty theya re. I just roasted one of the cheese pumpkins from our fall display, and it was deliciously sweet and nutty. Will definitely try your suggestions next season!

  2. I think one of the problems with newbie pumpkin cooks is that some recipes give long winded instructions about chopping up the meat after peeling and then boiling in an extra large pot of water – total waste of time! Take a hatchet, chop the sucker in half or whatever pieces will fit into your oven and roast them til they smell done or a knife cuts through them easily (it may take an hour or so). And don’t forget to roast the seeds – yum yum yummy.

    I finally have a yard big enough and sunny enough for the big vine crops. Now my only problem will be showing restraint and just plant a few of each.

  3. John, you’re right! Peeling, egads. I chop them in quarters and stick them in the oven on a cookie sheet. Works for all purposes.

  4. My Jarrahdale didn’t “make it” this year; one fruit started, then fell victim to critters; the plants were then apparently overwhelmed by conventional pumpkins 🙁

    Wait ’til next year 🙂

  5. Lucky you! – no squash vine borers? I have tried every organic method to kill them – with no success. Very frustrating.

  6. I was so disappointed in the farm-bought pumpkin this year – it had no flavor – I decided to grow my own next year. Thanks for the ideas re varieties. And I too plan to grow them in the meadow. They can sprawl to their hearts content.

  7. “Saved” dozens of pumpkins destined for the dumpster after serving their “decorating” function and placed in groups of three and six along the forest-edged meadows behind our condo. Hoping to feed squirrels, deer, and hope to see “surprise” pumpkins in the mesdows.

  8. I’m rather partial to the Japanese version of pumpkin, Kabotcha squash. It makes a fantastic roasted squash soup and it’s the one used for tempura in Japanese restaurants. It’s also the only squash my husband like. It is a smooth texture and has a wonderful sweetness to it.

    I may try a half-Kabotcha, half MdC. Though by the post above, Foy says they don’t even use pumpkin in the canned pumpkin. I’ll have to plant a few New England pies along with my Kabotcha and MdC and find a nice balance of flavor by mixing these three.

  9. I roasted a whole Jarradale in the oven. After it was done, I peeled and seeded it. The seeds were warm and I wonder if that will kill the viability. Any ideas?
    Could you post a good link of pie recipe?

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