Fairytale pumpkins are a type of winter squash with a sweet, buttery flavor that makes them great for pumpkin pies. They can be roasted, baked, sautéed, and simmered, as well as eaten raw.
What Are Fairytale Pumpkins?
Fairytale pumpkins are a large, flat member of the squash family (Cucurbitaceae) with a sweet, edible flesh that is perfect for cooking and baking. A winter squash, it has large, deep ribs, turns from dark green to orange-brown when ripe, and commonly grows up to 20 pounds or more. Its flesh is orange-yellow. It is sometimes categorized as a "cheese pumpkin," but this has nothing to do with its flavor. Rather, the term refers to any pumpkins whose flat shape somewhat resembles wheels of cheese.
Fairytale pumpkins also go by the names Musquée de Provence, Moscata di Provenza, and Castilla squash. They belong to the species Cucurbita moschata, which originated in the Caribbean. They're also popular in the Philippines, Mexico, and El Salvador, where their blossoms, known as flor de calabaza, are sometimes used as an ingredient in the traditional pupusas.
As a winter squash (technically a fruit), fairytale pumpkins spend upwards of 100 days on the vine, as opposed to summer squash, which is harvested in as little as 40 to 70 days. This additional time is instrumental in giving winter squash, like fairytale pumpkins, their hard shell. Fairytale pumpkins are somewhat of a rarity among hard-shelled winter squash in that they are one of the few cultivars that can be eaten raw. Fairytale pumpkins are popular in France, where they are sold in wedges at marketplaces.
How to Cook With Fairytale Pumpkins
Fairytale pumpkins can be cooked in all the usual pumpkin cooking methods. Baking is one of the most common ways to enjoy fairytale pumpkins, especially for making pumpkin pie. It's also well suited for roasting, which brings out additional sweetness, as well as sautéeing, simmering, and steaming. Once cooked, it can be used in casseroles, pasta and risotto dishes, stews and curries, soups and sauces, and as a pizza topping. It pairs well with pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and garlic and can be served with ground meats, poultry, sausage, grains, and other squash. Besides pies, fairytale pumpkins can also be used for baking cookies, cakes, and muffins.
Fairytale pumpkin can also be enjoyed raw, as a snack, as a salad ingredient, or as a garnish atop pasta or braised meat dishes.
To roast fairytale pumpkins, you can slice the pumpkin into wedges using the ribs as a guide, then scoop out the seeds and pulp. Lightly brush the pumpkin flesh with olive oil, season with salt, and roast in a 400 F oven for about 40 minutes, turning once during that time. When cooked, the flesh will be tender.
What Do They Taste Like?
Fairytale pumpkins have a rich, buttery, sweet flavor with a smooth, dense texture, similar to butternut squash. When roasted, they develop additional sweetness as the starches caramelize and turn to sugar.
Fairytale Pumpkin Recipes
You can substitute fairytale pumpkin for practically any recipe that calls for winter squash, including butternut, acorn, and kabocha.
Where to Buy Fairytale Pumpkins
Fairytale pumpkins can be found at farmers' markets and supermarket produce departments during the autumn and winter months.
A whole fairytale pumpkin will keep for up to nine months when stored in a cool place away from sunlight. Once it is sliced, it will keep for up to a week in the fridge. When trimmed away from the rind, the flesh can be frozen, and it will keep for up to six months in the freezer.
Nutrition and Benefits
A 100-gram serving of fairytale squash is about 90 percent water, and provides 34 calories, 1 gram of protein, 9 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fiber along with negligible fat. It is also a source of vitamin A and beta carotene.
Fairytale vs. Cinderella Pumpkin
Because of their names, and their similar shapes, fairytale pumpkins are often confused with Cinderella pumpkins. Cinderella pumpkins, also known as Rouge Vif d'Étampes, are a similar shape to fairytale pumpkins, but they have a bright red-orange color as opposed to the orange-brown of a fairytale. Additionally, Cinderella are less flavorful and more watery, making them less suited for baking.
Squash, winter, all varieites. Fooddata central, United States Department of Agriculture