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Giving Thanks for Gourds

Fall’s other fruit has decorated Thanksgiving table tops and mantles for decades, but why?

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What is a Gourd?

  • One of fall’s most popular crops.
  • Considered the runts of their family of fruits, which also includes pumpkins, squash, & cucumbers (yup, they’re all fruits.)
  • Come in all shapes & sizes, can be knotty, mutated (decorative, tiny pumpkins are gourds too!)
  • Typically describes inedible varieties – tough & bitter.
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“That’s the goal: to get something stranger and stranger, because that’s what people want. If they see something they’ve never seen before, they’re more likely to buy it.”

Bill Holdsworth, a breeder for leading seed company Rupp Seeds, on the best-selling types of gourds.
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Ga Ga for Gourds

  • Between 1993 and 2007, prices of decorative gourds doubled.
  • In 2016, the world grew more pumpkins, squash and gourds than corn or green beans.
  • Decorative potential comes from the diverse looks – something rarely seen in fruits and vegetables.

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How’d They Catch On?

  • Gourds have been manipulated for various needs for about 8,000 years.
  • Historically held great importance for carrying & transporting, or for use as a bowl, clothing, wheels & even musical instruments.
  • In 1937, the American Gourd Society was created, with chapters now in half of U.S. states.
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If you really want to eat one, experts say to eat them before they are fully ripe. Younger gourds will be softer whereas older gourds will be more tough & bitter. Get rid of the skin & boil for 20 mins. Or, if you ask us, maybe just admire them while you eat your turkey!

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