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Welcome in Fall with the WCU University Libraries

by Bridget Voltz on 2023-10-23T09:13:00-04:00 | 0 Comments

Welcome in Fall with the WCU University Libraries 

Free Seeds - Jack Be Little Pumpkin (Cucurbita Pepo)


The WCU University Libraries is happy to provide our students with free seed packets. Celebrate the spooky days of fall by planting these mini pumpkin seeds!

(However, you must plant these seeds in spring after the first frost... We just thought pumpkins were so festive for the spooky season!)

To seed: Start by planting 2-3 seeds 1” deep in soil with a pH of 6.5-7.0. For the best outcome, plant at 65-85°F (early May). Ensure your soil is well drained (a mixture of potting soil, peat moss, and vermiculite helps with drainage) and in full sun for at least 6-8 hrs. If potting inside, plant seeds in 18" deep soil. When transplanting, plant one plant 24-36" apart per 4-6" mound. Add mulch to protect the plant in the summer from the heat. Fertilize after the first set of blooms appear. These pumpkin seeds are in the summer squash category and will germinate between 1-2 weeks.

Look & Taste: Mature Jack Be Little Pumpkin plants can grow 36-48". These pumpkins are squash and are known for their mini pumpkin look. The squash is a bright orange color and is tender and smooth with a mild, slightly sweet taste—similar to other known squash. 

Harvesting & Storage: Harvest after 95 days. The pumpkin is ripe when the stem is solid and the rind is tough (when you can't stab your finger through it easily). Jack Be Littles produces 3-4" wide and 2" tall bright-orange pumpkins. Clip the pumpkin from the vine, leaving about 4" of stem intact, and cure the pumpkin in the sun for 10-14 days. Curing pumpkins & squash helps them last longer after harvesting. 

We purchased our seeds from True Leaf Market. True Leaf Market has been in business since 1972 and proudly supports home and professional growers in the seed industry. They have a lustrous variety of seeds from premium brands such as Mountain Valley Seeds, Sustainable Seeds, Kitazawa Seeds, and Handy Pantry. As an independent non-GMO seed company, they proudly support anyone who wishes to grow. 


Try your freshly grown mini pumpkins with this recipe!



Prep Time: 10 minutes                Cook Time: 60 minutes                Chill Time: 8 hours               Serves: 4-6 people (depends on pumpkin sizes)


Pumpkin Shell

4-6 mini pumpkins (3-4" diameter)
4-6 tbsp butter (softened)
4-6 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp pumpkin spice


5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup 2 tbsp granulated sugar
4-6 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups heavy whipping cream (or heavy cream alternative) 
1 tsp pumpkin spice

Carmel Layer

4-6 tbsp granulated sugar
1 heat source 



Start by preheating your oven to 350°F

Take your mini pumpkins and carefully cut the tops off your pumpkins with a serrated knife. Use a towel over the pumpkins to protect your hands if your pumpkins are tough. Spoon out the seeds (you can save and roast the seeds for a different recipe). Spread your softened butter on all the pumpkins. Mix together your pumpkin shell sugar and pumpkin spice together and sprinkle over your pumpkins. Place the tops back on each pumpkin, place all pumpkins on a baking sheet, and bake for 30-40 minutes until the flesh is tender but firm. 

Start your crème brûlée mixture. Whisk together until just combined yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla, and pumpkin spice in a large batter bowl (large bowl). Then add 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree and whisk to combine. Add cream and whisk to combine. Set aside.

When the pumpkins are tender, remove from the oven. Set the tops of the pumpkins aside. Drop the temperature to 320°F. Then, give the crème brûlée mixture a quick mix and pour the mixture into each pumpkin. Note: If you don't have a torch, slightly undercook your crème brûlée - take out 5 minutes earlier. (If you are familiar with crème brûlée you may notice that we are not creating a bain marie for the pumpkins; the pumpkins have enough moister to do without the hot water bath)

Carefully place the tray of pumpkins (without tops) in the preheated oven and bake till the edges set like thick pudding and the center is still jiggly. This takes about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the pumpkins from the oven and cool to room temperature - 10 minutes. Refrigerate your crème brûlée pumpkins for at least 8 hours. For best results refrigerate over night.

Before serving, sprinkle sugar over your chilled mini pumpkin crème brûlée and torch the sugar until the sugar liquefies and turns a golden caramel color. If you don't have a torch, you can caramelize the sugar by placing the sugared pumpkins on the top shelf and setting your oven to broil. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR OVEN WHEN BROILING. The caramelization happens quickly. 

Serve after the sugar has hardened. Enjoy cracking open your crème brûlée!

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