From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds).[1] In the United States and Canada it is a common name of or can refer to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata. They are typically orange or yellow and have many creases running from the stem to the bottom. They have a thick shell on the outside, with seeds and pulp on the inside.
The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon (πέπων), which is Greek for “large melon.” The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and later American colonists changed that to the word we use today, “pumpkin.”[3] The origin of pumpkins is not definitively known, although they are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C., were found in Mexico.[3][4] Pumpkins are a squash-like fruit that range in size from less than 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) to over 1,000 pounds (453.59 kilograms).[5]
Pumpkins generally weigh 9–18 lbs (4–8 kg) with the largest (of the species C. maxima) capable of reaching a weight of over 75 lbs (34 kg).[8] The pumpkin varies greatly in shape, ranging from oblate through oblong. The rind is smooth and usually lightly ribbed.[8] Although pumpkins are usually orange or yellow,[7] some fruits are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and gray.[9]
Pumpkin, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
56 kJ (13 kcal)
6.5 g
1.36 g
Dietary fiber
0.5 g
0.1 g
0.05 g
0.01 g
0.01 g
1.0 g
Vitamin A equiv.
369 μg (41%)
– beta-carotene
3100 μg (29%)
Thiamine (Vit. B1)
0.05 mg (4%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)
0.110 mg (7%)
Niacin (Vit. B3)
0.6 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.298 mg (6%)
Vitamin B6
0.061 mg (5%)
Folate (Vit. B9)
16 μg (4%)
Vitamin C
9 mg (15%)
Vitamin E
1.06 mg (7%)
21 mg (2%)
0.8 mg (6%)
12 mg (3%)
44 mg (6%)
340 mg (7%)
1 mg (0%)
0.32 mg (3%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Pumpkins are a warm-weather crop that is usually planted in early July. The specific conditions necessary for growing pumpkins require that soil temperatures three inches (7.62 centimeters) deep are at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) and soil that holds water well. Pumpkin crops may suffer if there is a lack of water or because of cold temperatures (in this case, below 65 degrees (18.3 degrees Celsius); frost can be detrimental), and sandy soil or soil with poor water filtration. Pumpkins are, however, rather hardy, and even if many leaves and portions of the vine are removed or damaged, the plant can very quickly re-grow secondary vines to replace what was removed.[5]
Pumpkins produce both a male and female flower; honeybees play a significant role in fertilization.[14] One hive per acre (4,000 m² per hive) is recommended by the United States of America (US) Department of Agriculture. If there are inadequate bees for pollination, gardeners often have to hand pollinate. Inadequately pollinated pumpkins usually start growing but abort before full development.
Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking, from the fleshy shell, to the seeds, to even the flowers; most parts of the pumpkin are edible. Traditionally, pumpkin is a very popular Halloween and Thanksgiving staple.
When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. In its native North America, it is a very important, traditional part of the autumn harvest, eaten mashed[22] and making its way into soups and purees. In Mexico and the U.S., the seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack. Often, it is made into pie, various kinds of which are a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holiday.
Pumpkins that are still small and green may be eaten in the same way as squash or zucchini. Pumpkins can also be mashed (similar to mashed potatoes) or incorporated into soup. In the Middle East, pumpkin is used for sweet dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called halawa yaqtin. In South Asian countries such as India, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices in a dish called kadu ka halwa. In Guangxi province, China, the leaves of the pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable or in soups. In Australia, pumpkin is often roasted in conjunction with other vegetables. In Japan, small pumpkins are served in savory dishes, including tempura. In Myanmar, pumpkins are used in both in cooking and desserts (candied). The seeds are a popular sunflower seed substitute. In Thailand, small pumpkins are steamed with custard inside and served as a dessert. In Italy it can be used with cheeses as a savory stuffing for ravioli. Also, pumpkin can be used to flavor both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.
In the southwestern United States and Mexico, pumpkin and squash flowers are a popular and widely available food item. They may be used to garnish dishes, and they may be dredged in a batter then fried in oil. In Kenya the pumpkin leaves are a popular vegetable in the Western and central regions called seveve or an ingredient of mukimo [4] respectively whereas the pumpkin itself is usually boiled or steamed. The seeds are popular with children who roast them on a pan before eating them.
Pumpkin Soup
Submitted by Louisa Wright
2 ½ c. fresh pumpkin (may want to cook ahead of time…see steps 1-4 )
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
½ c. butter
½ c. flour
2 q. chicken stock
2 tbsp. curry
1-2 c. heavy cream
Garnish: sour cream, chives, and/or croutons
1.Clean pumpkin of skin and seeds and cut into 1 inch (or so) cubes.
2.Put pumpkin cubes in a sauce pan, cover with water and lid, and bring to a boil.
3.Once water is boiling, turn down to medium and cook for an hour or until flesh is tender.
4.Drain and blend until smooth.
5.Sauté onion in 2 tbsp. butter until translucent and set aside.
6.Sauté mushrooms until soft (add more butter if necessary) and set aside.
7.Place ½ c. butter in large soup pot and heat until butter is melted.
8.Once melted, add ½ c. flour a little at a time to form a roux for 4-5 minutes (do not darken roux).
9.Add 2 q. stock slowly while whisking until slightly thickened.
10.Add onions, pumpkin and curry and cook at a slow boil for 20 minutes.
11.Add cream, mushrooms, salt & pepper to taste, and reheat but do not boil.
12.Garnish with sour cream, chives and/or croutons if you prefer.
Serves 4.