Today’s blog post will be a little talk about the birds and the bees. After all, it takes both a male and a female flower to create a baby pumpkin. A pumpkin actually forms from the flower!
Pumpkin plants have two type of flowers. Before a pumpkin can start forming inside the female flower, a grain of pollen from the male flower must land on the stigma at the top of the pistil. This process is called pollination.
One way pollination happens is when pollen rubs onto bees’ legs and bodies as they visit flowers. They pick up pollen from one flower and leave it on another flower. If pollen from the male flower lands on the pistil of the female flower, a long tube grows through the pistil into an ovule. This is the beginning of a seed. As the seed grows bigger, a pod grows around it to protect it. This pod is the pumpkin shell. The pumpkin will continue to grow until it is harvest time.
Did you know… the size of a pumpkin depends on water, temperature, insects, diseases, pollination, fertility, soil type, plant population and weeds? Pumpkins are ready to harvest when they are the right color and have the right rind readiness.
Remember, there are all types of colors of pumpkins. Some of our most popular varieties are non-traditional pumpkins and squashes including white Polar Bear, green Jarrahdale and flat Cinderella.
Not only does the Jarrahdale make an interesting fall ornamental, but it’s a delicious baking squash. I’ve been told that Australians favor this variety because of its thick, sweet flesh. The Jarrahdale also stores exceptionally well. The hard rind on all winter squash allows them to be stored longer than summer squash like zucchini. Winter squash do not require refrigeration. Simply store winter squash in a cool, dark place for one month or more. (Click here for tips on selecting baking squash.)
It won’t be long before we’re sharing delicious fall recipes like Pumpkin Muffins and Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs. Today, however, we’re sharing a recipe that makes use of honey and chickens. We’re thankful for the bees that produce honey, and we’re proud to offer locally produced HenCliff Honey at our Fresh on the Farm event. We also raise farm-fresh chickens, so call me at 515-371-0450 if you’d like to order yours now!
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Ingredients for chicken:
1 pint buttermilk
4 teaspoons salt, split into 2-tsp increments
1 c. all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon black pepper, split into ½ and ¼ tsp increments
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces (NOTE: You can order farm-fresh chicken, already cut, from Enchanted Acres)
2 teaspoons paprika
½ c. real butter
Honey Butter Sauce:
4 tablespoons (1/4 c.) butter
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup honey
Make a buttermilk brine for the chicken by combining the buttermilk, 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. (I use a Tupperware® marinating container.) Add chicken pieces and chill overnight. Drain before using.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a bag and shake each chicken piece to coat it in the flour mixture.
Melt one stick of butter in a big ovenproof skillet. Over medium heat, add chicken pieces in a single layer, turning chicken to coat with butter. Bake skin-side down for 30 minutes.
Melt remaining butter in a small pan and whisk in the honey and lemon.
Turn the chicken pieces, pour on the honey butter sauce, and bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Serve with biscuits and pan juices.
(adapted from the Mr. Food Test Kitchen and printed in The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs)