Pumpkin pie is poised to join an illustrious list that includes things like popcorn, the painted turtle, square dancing and the Tully Monster. The Illinois House just overwhelmingly passed a measure to declare that pumpkin pie be the official state pie of Illinois. The Senate begins consideration of the measure today. This designation celebrates Illinois’ status as the top producer of processed pumpkin. Around 500 million pounds of pumpkin are harvested annually in the state. Ninety percent of the pumpkins in the US are grown within a 90 mile radius of Peoria, IL and the nearby town of Morton is home to Libby’s pumpkin processing plant, which cans more than 85 percent of the world’s pumpkin.
It might be time to start learning our pumpkin facts in anticipation of this event. An interesting book in our collection is Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon.
The University of Illinois Extension has a wealth of information on all things pumpkin including recipes, history, growing pumpkins, festivals and more. Here are just a few pumpkin facts to get us started.
Pumpkins originated in Central America.
Pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A.
Pumpkin flowers are edible.
Pumpkins range in size from less than a pound to over 1,000 pounds.
The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.
In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
And…it’s almost time to start preparing to bake your own Illinois official state pumpkin pie. Planting season is late May.