Take the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Pledge

The more we cook with this endangered local variety, the more likely it will survive.

LongIslandCheesePumpkinSoup2_lluciano

Go to outeastfoodie.com for the recipe for this soup made from Long Island cheese pumpkin. The seeds were toasted with cHarrisa and brown sugar.

The Long Island cheese pumpkin has been creeping its way back to the farms and seed banks for the past few years, but not fast enough. Since the 1960s this pumpkin has had a complex about its curvaceous and ever so sexy relative the butternut squash and the default pie favorite, the sugar pumpkin.

Farmers and processors preferred smoother and rounder pumpkins that roll off conveyors and are easy to peel. Pity the squat Long Island cheese pumpkin, shaped like a wheel of cheese (hence the name), with deeply ridged beige skin. It fell from favor and started to disappear from seed catalogs. At least Slow Food added it to their Ark of Taste, a list of heritage fruits, vegetables, animal breeds, recipes and artisanal prepared foods on the verge of extinction.

I’m asking you to join me in taking the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Pledge.

Ken Ettlinger, a local seed saver, began scouring farms in the late 1970s for Long Island cheese pumpkins for his mother to make a Thanksgiving pie. It dawned on him how scarce the pumpkin was becoming, so he began to save the seeds; the rest is history. Wouldn’t it be cool if consumers like you and me sought out the Long Island cheese pumpkin for its incredible and supreme flavor for sweet and savory dishes? Most notably for pumpkin pie?

So I’m asking you to join me in taking the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Pledge: ask farmers to grow it; honor its history; and cook with it. Without consumer demand, there’s no motivation to plant endangered varieties.

A cheese pumpkin at Serene Green farm stand in Sag Harbor. • photo by Lindsay Morris

A cheese pumpkin at Serene Green farm stand in Sag Harbor. • photo by Lindsay Morris

I promise you, this pumpkin is superb for its bright orange, meaty flesh (fewer strings) and sweet nutty flavor. So far this fall, I have made gnocchi, roasted pumpkin and pie. Make the pledge and secure the future of the Long Island cheese pumpkin.

Visit outeastfoodie to jump start your pledge and make a Long Island cheese pumpkin soup.

 

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Cook and artist Laura Luciano writes the blog outeastfoodie.com.