Pumpkin Facts & Trivia
Native to Central America, growers through the years have cross-pollinated different varieties of pumpkins to create new cultivars. The Native Americans often grew pumpkin and squash with corn and beans, a process they called, “the three sisters”. By growing in this method each plant supports the other thereby producing a better yield. The word pumpkin is derived from pepon, a Greek word meaning “a large melon”. The French called it pompon and the English pumpion.
The tradition of pumpkin carving dates back to centuries ago in Ireland where they created something called “jack of the lantern” by carving turnips and potatoes with scary faces, then lighting them with a candle and placing them in windowsills to ward off evil spirits. When colonists later arrived in the New World they found pumpkins which soon after became the vegetable of choice for carving.
Why is Pumpkin So Good For You?
The pumpkin’s nutritious orange flesh offers magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and antioxidant carotenoids. Like many orange fruits and vegetables pumpkins are also rich in beta-carotene which helps support healthy eyesight and is beneficial to bone and cell development. Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil offer protein, iron and zinc.
What does it look/taste like?
Encased in a moderately hard shell, the thick edible flesh of the pumpkin harbors a central multi-seed cavity. Pumpkins come in many different shapes and sizes. Their bright orange skin can be smooth, bumpy or vertically lined with ridges. Their flesh is orange and typically offers a sweet mild flavor, however some varieties bread specifically for carving will be bland and fibrous.
How do you eat them?
- Fresh pumpkin may be cooked in a variety of ways but also keeps very well and may be canned or frozen.
- Add diced pumpkin to curries and stir-fries or puree and add to soups.
- They can be sliced and roasted, grilled or fried, or they can be stuffed and baked whole.
- Use pumpkin puree in quick breads, muffins, cookies and of course, pies.
- Pumpkin seeds, known as pepitas, may be roasted and enjoyed as a snack.
- Similar to squash blossoms, pumpkin blossoms can be stuffed and fried.
- Pumpkin can also be used to make beer.
- To store, keep whole pumpkins in a cool dry area up to one month, or refrigerate for up to three months.