Garden Blogs I Dig
'Tis the season for all things pumpkin. Pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes....lotta pumpkin up in heeah these days. With the abundance of pumpkin recipes dancing in my head, I ask the burning question: canned vs. fresh pumpkin?
I admit, I am a long-time canned pumpkin consumer. Roasting pumpkins and pumpkin seeds were not a part of my upbringing. Well that stops now! We still had this darling baking pumpkin from our CSA farm share and it sparked something inside me. I am a gardener and a foodie true and true, and I'm here to step up to the challenge and decide once and for all which is better: fresh or canned?
Round 1: AESTHETIC VALUE
The first challenge is obvious. Fresh pumpkins are adorable. They are not only used for baking and cooking but are a staple in fall decor. In the other corner we have an aluminum can of pumpkin puree. Not only is it aesthetically unpleasing, but it's also harmful to the environment (Boo!).
Round 2: THE PUREE
This one is less apparent.
On one hand, the steps necessary to actually obtain the fresh puree is far more timely than simply opening a can. Cutting, deseeding, roasting, peeling and pureeing - a lengthy process.
HOWEVER, the color of the fresh puree captures the essence of the pumpkin - bright and crisp. The canned pumpkin is more brownish, not as vivid. Also the texture of the fresh puree is silky and smooth. The canned is gritty and dense.
Round 3: THE FINAL PRODUCT
Of course when we are talking pumpkin bread with a cinnamon streusel topping, they are both going to be delicious, and they were. The texture of the bread made with fresh pumpkin puree was smooth and velvety. The bread was rich with subtle pumpkin flavor. The bread made with the canned pumpkin was more dense and the pumpkin flavor was stronger.
Actually there is no contest: fresh totally knocks out canned. Reminds me of Rocky III when Rocky beats the Russian - you knew all along the Italian Stallion would pull through. Little secret: I had an inkling the fresh pumpkin would be victorious.
Lesson learned? It is well worth your time to roast and puree fresh pumpkins. Roast a lot at one time and freeze what you don't use. And don't forget the seeds!
A final pic of the mouth-watering champion.
This weekend when we were finishing up the final garden chores of the year I was reflecting on our ever-changing garden and the times spent here. You see, our house is on the market and (hopefully) it will be the last time digging, weeding and cutting this garden. A bittersweet realization.
We took extra special care to make sure all plants were cut to the ground (with the exception of grasses and rose bushes), all pots were dumped and beds were thoroughly raked. And it looked very tidy, but pretty naked too. We removed my beloved compost heap a few weeks ago (admittedly an eyesore to prospective buyers) so I couldn't even save the garden scraps. It just didn't feel right to have all that potential compost in bags on the curb - just there for the taking!
So amidst my barren garden I was taken back by the sheer lack of fall interest it offers. Sure, I have an ornamental grass here and there, and the porcelain berry vine is putting on a show now, but that's it. Pretty pathetic.
So in David Letterman fashion I've created a top ten list of plants to amp up my new garden during the latter part of the growing season (given we move by next spring, keep your fingers crossed).
Top Ten Perennials to Add Hellacious Fall Color to My New Garden at My New Abode
1. Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) - I've always wanted one (or more) of these. The vivid red branches contrast beautifully with fresh, white snow.
2. Burning Bush (Euonymus alatas) - I know these are grossly overused but it's hard to beat the brilliant crimson foliage this time of year.
3. Pig Sqeak (Bergenia cordifolia) - A good groundcover and leaves turn purplish-red in fall. Very nice.
4. Smoketree (Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple) - Purple haze comes to mind when this bush blooms in mid-summer. I adore the purple, oblong-shaped leaves.
5. Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii) - This shrub has multi-season appeal, starting with gorgeous blooms in spring and ending with awesome color in fall.
6. Garden mums (Chyrsanthemum sp.) - I used to have garden mums but they tend to be short-lived. Regardless, they come in so many colors now, a great way to add some variety into the fall landscape.
7. Sedum (Sedum sp.) - I do have Sedum 'Autumn Joy', but I never divided it so I had to cut it back since it was drooping to the ground anyway. Point being: need more varieties of sedum at the new casa.
8. Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) - A prolific bloomer all season this perennial persists into fall displaying vibrant red foliage.
9. Beautyberry (Calicarpa dichotoma) - Love the cascading bunches of wine-colored berries.
10. Bluestars (Amsonia hubrechtii) - This is the 2011 Perennial Plant Association plant of the year. I feel like I should incorporate the PPA winners in my landscape (You down with PPA? Ya, you know me! Sorry, just a little Naughty By Nature reference.), plus it's totally gorg. Love yellow.
There's my list. Now that I'm done I feel like I should break it up into woodies and herbaceous perennials. I'll work on that list and get back to you - a gardener's work is never finished!