It's official. In earlier months rumors of pumpkin shortages have circulated and many, including myself, laughed at the fear of those who stockpiled the canned pumpkin goodness.
Well the soothsayers were right. According to Libby's, the nation's largest producer of pumpkin, there is indeed a shortage:
"Due to poor weather conditions, the pumpkin harvest is smaller than we expected so it may be hard to find LIBBY'S Pumpkin this holiday season. The heavy rains throughout the harvest have made it nearly impossible to pick our pumpkins. That's because tractors and other equipment are not able to move through the saturated fields.
At LIBBY'S, we're proud of our quality and we know that you trust us to deliver the best. The longer the pumpkins sit in these muddy fields, the more likely it is the quality of the pumpkin has declined. So we've made the difficult decision that we will not pack any more pumpkin this year which means that through the holiday season and until next fall's harvest, LIBBY'S pumpkin will be hard to find."The San Jose Mercury News reported that: "Some chains have been pushing fresh pumpkins as alternatives. But Patti Milligan, spokeswoman for Los Angeles' Sprouts Farmers Market, said the season for pie pumpkins 'is pretty much over, and only a few of our stores still have them.' "
Although there is a shortage, many stores still have pumpkin on the shelves and you will want to grab a couple cans while you have a chance. I have a couple of delicious pumpkin recipes coming this week that just can't wait for next season's crop!
However, once those pumpkins are gone for the season (and shouldn't we take pride in eating seasonally?), there are lovely squash alternatives! The Chicago Sun-Times published a great article on squash alternatives to the famed pumpkin. And Uncovering Food has a number of squash recipes that will help you forget your canned orange friend until 2010.
Baked Red Kuri Squash
Spicy Sweet Butternut Squash Fries
Winter Squash Soup
Red Pork and Winter Squash
Golden Nugget Squash with POM Reduction and Roasted Pinenuts
Toasted Squash Seeds