Giant Mystery Squash - possibly a pumpkin

The garden is overrun by these three massive squash plants. I thought I was planting Japanese squash seeds, but obviously not. They are orange and pumpkin shape... but unlike a pumpkin, they turn yellow at a very young size, about two inches across, then deepen to orange once they reach about two feet across. I tried some when they were tiny thinking they were weird round summer squash, but tastes terrible, not even the chickens will eat it at that stage.

Can I eat it - more to the point, should I?
How do I know when it's ready? They sound hollow when tapped at any size.
What do I do with it?
If it is a pumpkin, how do I preserve it - I'm the only one in the house with even a mild like for pumpkins.

I'm going to try and attach a photo for you to see what you can tell me what culinary magic these three plants can perform. I put the wine bottle in there so you can get an idea of size - not the largest ones in the garden, but the most orange looking.

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trampledbygeese July 28, 2014
Bread turned out okay. I had to make a few changes because I don't have a mixer, but on the whole, a nice texture. A bit on the sweet side though. I think I'll make it again but change up the spices, maybe add some texture to it like sprouted oats, or even lentils.
Maedl July 28, 2014
Is it a Hokkaido pumpkin? If so, the skin is very edible.

Afghanis have some interesting pumpkin preparations. Here is one:

As for mashing pumpkin, not all pumpkins are created equal. You need a sugar pumpkin--I'd try mashing a small pumpkin to see if it tastes good and has the proper consistency--no point in going through a lot of work if it isn't the right pumpkin.
trampledbygeese July 28, 2014
Thanks for the replies. Good tip about the stem.

Now that I know I can eat it, I'm going to give a try of this bread: later today. I'm glad it includes a recipe for biga as my sourdough starter(s) both died this month. Something in our water this time of year always gets my poor starters.

Apples are just coming ready too, so I'm on the look out for something savory that transports well that has both squash/pumpkin and apple. I'll probably make pumpkin pie later this fall, just don't feel like sweet things right now.

Just wondering, for recipes that call for canned pumpkin - but I want to start from a real pumpkin, what's the best way to convert whole squashed into canned like substance without actually doing any canning? Canned pumpkin is just pumpkin mush, right?
aargersi July 28, 2014
I think canned pumpkin is actually often butternut squash - but for pie and the like you need a pie pumpkin - I think that big beauty might not be "pumpkin-y" enough. I agree with giving it a roast and see what it tastes like! (ps I once got a butternut and a cantaloup cross pollinated and the results were gross. My mom call squashes the slut plants of the garden - heh)
Alex July 28, 2014
It may be that you had japanese pumpkin seeds that cross-pollinated with another squash variety - but almost any squash that looks like that will be edible.

You usually can tell if a big pumpkin is ripe when the stem hardens and starts to crack.
claire M. July 28, 2014
They might indeed be a Japanese pumpkin. I would roast them, take out the flesh, and make pumpkin butter. Make it in the oven. No scorching!
trampledbygeese July 28, 2014
Oh, pumpkin butter... going to go find out what that is.
I think Japanese pumpkins are suppose to be like buttercup squash - at least I know they are green when ripe.
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