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Knucklehead pumpkins are small to medium in size, averaging thirty centimeters in height, twenty-five centimeters in diameter, and weighing 12-16 pounds, and are upright, elongated, and oval in shape. The rind has vertical ridging, matures from dark green to bright orange, and is covered in warts, scabs, or bumps connecting to a rough, green-brown angular stem. Some warts may also transform from dark green to orange, but some may also stay green when mature. The flesh is yellow-orange, dense, and thick containing a central cavity with some pulp and flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, Knucklehead pumpkins are smooth and tender with a very sweet, mild flavor.
Knucklehead pumpkins are available in the fall through early winter.
Knucklehead pumpkins, botanically classified as Cucurbita pepo, are a hybrid variety growing on trailing vines and are members of the Cucurbitaceae family along with gourds and squash. Knucklehead pumpkins are a part of a specialty line known as Superfreak which was developed by Siegers Seed Co. in Holland, Michigan. Along with the goosebumps gourd, these fruits were intentionally bred for their warty skin and large, elongated size to create unique fall accents and unusual carving pumpkins. Knucklehead pumpkins are most commonly used as a decorative pumpkin to make jack o’lanterns and can also be used in sweet and savory culinary applications.
Knucklehead pumpkins contain beta-carotene, magnesium, vitamin A, and potassium.
Knucklehead pumpkins are best suited for cooked applications such as baking, roasting, or boiling. They can be cooked and combined with roasted winter vegetables as a side dish, sliced and mixed into green salads, or pureed and blended into soups. Knucklehead pumpkins can also be used in sweet applications such as bread, cookies, muffins, tarts, pudding, pies, cakes, and custards. In addition to the flesh, the seeds can be cleaned, roasted, and salted as a crunchy snack. Knucklehead pumpkins pair well with meats such as turkey, sausage, poultry, and beef, eggs, onions, celery, carrots, ginger, garlic, bell pepper, sweet potato, tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, arugula, kale, and spices and herbs such as garam masala, paprika, cumin, bay leaves, thyme, and oregano. They will keep for a couple of months when stored in a cool and dry place.
Warty pumpkins have become a new trend in the marketplace and have grown in popularity since the early 2000s. Originally, consumers were only searching for smooth-faced pumpkins to purchase for carving and considered pumpkins with warts unhealthy or defective. Farmers would then breed out warts to create only smooth pumpkins varieties. As time passed, consumers began searching for more novel and unique varieties to fill the need for creative jack o’lanterns. Sieger Seed Company recognized the shift in the market and began intentionally breeding varieties with warts and bumps. These varieties have an unusual, ghoulish appearance that has become increasingly popular for jack o’lanterns and are being heavily marketed as the new carving pumpkin.
Knucklehead pumpkins were created in 2008 in Holland, Michigan by Siegers Seed Company. It took over ten generations of cross-breeding to create the variety covered in warts, and today Knucklehead pumpkins can be found at specialty grocers, farmers markets, and through online seed catalogs for home gardening in the United States and Canada.