Pumpkin is the most commonly eaten in North America. The pumpkin contains a particularly interesting amount of carotenoids, antioxidant compounds. Unfortunately, it is more often used as a decorative element during Halloween than prepared for consumption.
- Source of beta-carotene;
- Excellent source of vitamin A;
- Source of phosphorus and magnesium;
- Source of vitamin B2;
- Source of vitamin C.
What is pumpkin?
Pumpkin id card
- Type: Squash;
- Family: Cucurbits;
- Origin: Europe and North America;
- Season: October to January;
- Color: Orange.
The pumpkin has an orange-colored skin and is round in shape. It weighs on average 5 kg.
Differences with pumpkin
Pumpkin and pumpkin are squash (Cucurbita), a large genus comprising many species and varieties with multiple shapes, colors and textures. Squash is fruit, even if it is mostly cooked like vegetables. The pumpkin comes in a round, orange color. As for the pumpkin, depending on the variety, it is more or less flattened; its color ranges from reddish orange to dark green. To distinguish the species, we rely on the peduncle: that of the pumpkin is tender and spongy, cylindrical and flared near the fruit, while that of the pumpkin, hard and fibrous, has five angular ribs and has no bulge at the attachment point. It is said that the pulp of pumpkin has a finer taste than that of pumpkin.
Word from the nutritionist
A portion of pumpkin corresponds to approximately 150g.
For 100g of pumpkin:
|Vitamin C||12 mg|
|Vitamin A||128 µg|
|Vitamin E||1.1 mg|
|Vitamin B1||0.05 mg|
10 benefits of pumpkin: why eat it?
- Pumpkin is rich in antioxidants which are compounds that protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals. These are very reactive molecules which are implicated in the development of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging.
- Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene which contributes to its orange color. Beta carotene also has an antioxidant effect. It could improve certain functions of the immune system.
- Pumpkin contains a good amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, two other antioxidant compounds from the carotenoid family. Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the macula and retina of the eye, protecting it from oxidative stress which could cause damage.
- Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A which helps, among other things, in the growth of bones and teeth. It keeps the skin healthy and protects against infections.
- Pumpkin is a source of phosphorus that plays an essential role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
- Pumpkin seeds are a source of magnesium which participates in bone development, protein construction, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system.
- Pumpkin is a source of potassium which is used to balance the pH of the blood and to stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid by the stomach, thus promoting digestion.
- Pumpkin is a source of vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.
- Pumpkin is a source of vitamin C which contributes to healthy bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. In addition, it protects against infections, promotes the absorption of iron from plants and accelerates healing.
- Pumpkin is a source of vitamin E. A major antioxidant, vitamin E protects the membrane that surrounds body cells, especially red and white blood cells (cells of the immune system).
Choose the right pumpkin
The pumpkin should be firm, heavy in the hand, its bark hard, without spots or cracks.
Unless vacuum packed, seeds quickly lose their freshness and become rancid. The best time to buy them is in the fall, right after harvest.
Preferably choose a 100% pure pumpkin oil (inexpensive products may contain other types of oil), cold pressed and whose label has an expiration date.
Kept in a cool, dry place, it will keep for a few weeks. Avoid the refrigerator. In the cellar, it will keep for a few weeks or a few months, depending on the variety.
Dehydrator: the flesh dries well. Empty the fruit and peel it, cut it into thin slices and put them in the dehydrator or in the oven set to low temperature.
Preferably store them in the refrigerator to delay rancidity.
It will keep for 18 months after its manufacture. See the expiration date on the label. Keep it cool and dry, away from light. Once opened, put it in the refrigerator.
How to cook it? How to match it?
- The flesh of these squashes makes an excellent, creamy soup. Just boil the flesh with onion in a broth, then puree and season;
- With pumpkin flesh, Parmesan cheese, white wine and a little honey, the Italians stuff ravioli which they serve with a simple sauce made up of butter in which sage leaves have simmered;
- Pumpkin pie. There are as many versions as there are individuals, but this one is particularly tasty. Cook prunes in armagnac or cognac diluted with water until they become tender. We cover a short pastry with prunes, which we cover with steamed pumpkin puree and blended with eggs, crème fraîche, sugar and vanilla. Bake 45 minutes or until the surface of the pie is golden. Serve with the rest of the prunes and roasted almonds;
- In Pennsylvania, we mix pumpkin and peach for making a pie, or pumpkin and sweet potato for making a cake;
- Cut the flesh into cubes and cook it so that it stays a little firm. Serve as a salad with nuts and endives;
- Finely grate the flesh and add eggs. Form into patties and cook in olive oil, about ten minutes per side;
- Savory cake: Cook the meat and puree it. Integrate the latter in a cake preparation to which we will add, to taste, diced bacon or raw ham, cheese, mushrooms, grilled pumpkin seeds, garlic, parsley, olives and any other ingredient of its taste. Salt, pepper and bake;
- Add pieces of pumpkin to the couscous vegetables;
- Pumpkin flesh can be mashed with potatoes;
- You can pass the flesh in a centrifuge to obtain a juice that will be mixed with that of a sweeter fruit, apple for example, all flavored with nutmeg or ground ginger;
- On the barbecue: Cut the pumpkin slices, coat them with olive oil and grill them on the barbecue or under the grill;
- A thick Italian soup, which is cooked with yellow tomatoes and sage;
- Ice cream by first steaming it and mashing it. Then we follow the usual process of making ice cream;
- Jams and chutneys;
- A blank.
The flowers are eaten just like those of squash and zucchini. We prepare them stuffed or in donuts.
- The unshelled seeds will first be soaked for one hour in water to soften the fibers. Rinse, spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes in an oven set to 150 ºC (300 ºF), shaking the plate lightly occasionally to prevent the seeds from burning. Unless you have a fragile gut, you eat the whole seeds;
- The naked seeds will be put directly in the oven for a cooking of 12 to 15 minutes. Add salt to the oven and serve warm. Or season with a mixture of salt, coriander seeds, dill, pepper and ground cayenne pepper;
- In Mexican cuisine, the peeled seeds are used to thicken various sauces including the traditional moles: mole verde, in particular, consisting of romaine lettuce, tomatillos, onions, coriander leaves, radishes and avocado, epazote (plant used as a seasoning) , also called Mexican tea), cumin and hot pepper, pounded together until a smooth paste. A mash of pumpkin seeds and peanuts is also prepared. These two preparations are then browned in duck fat. We add chicken or duck broth and pieces of cooked duck. Cook over low heat for about fifteen minutes and serve with hot tortillas;
- Pipian. This Mexican dish is made by roasting shelled seeds, corn flour, hot pepper and garlic in oil or bacon. Chicken broth is added, then pieces of cooked chicken. Simmer for a few minutes, then serve;
- Papadazules. Sauté a sliced onion in butter, add roasted and peeled tomatoes and a hot pepper, salt, pepper and set aside. Mix ground shelled seeds with water with epoxide, a Latin American flavoring, and beat to form a homogeneous paste. Heat tortillas in an oiled pan, dip them in pumpkin seed puree, stuff them with crushed hard-boiled eggs and roll them. Coat with mash and tomato sauce and serve;
- Prepare a stuffing for poultry with wild rice, ground shelled seeds, a pear, an apple, an onion and a thinly sliced celery stalk, thyme, rosemary and sage;
- Replace the pine nuts with peeled seeds in the pestos.
Pumpkin seed oil
- To be used in salads and soups, on cooked potatoes or vegetables, or on fish. Avoid cooking it at the risk of losing its nutritional qualities;
- Pour oil into a plate and dip the bread of your choice;
- Use it in pestos and wherever olive oil or other cooking oil is normally used.
Although allergy to foods of the cucurbit family (including the many varieties of squash, zucchini, patisson, etc.) is fairly widespread, few cases of allergy to pumpkin or pumpkin seeds have been reported . Pumpkin, watermelon, cucumber and zucchini form a food group whose allergies are strongly associated; a person allergic to one of these foods is more likely to be allergic to the other three.
History of food
The term “pumpkin” first appeared in the language in 1256 in the form of “citrole”, to take its current spelling in 1549. It comes from the Italian citruolo, which borrowed it from the Latin citrus, “lemon ”, Referring to the color of the fruit. However, “citrole” certainly did not designate the fruit that we know today under the name of “pumpkin”, since the latter originated in America and was not introduced in Europe before the 15th or 16th century. It was undoubtedly another botanical genus of the cucurbit family, which came from Asia.
All species of squash – the word is taken in its broad sense – come from America. Cucurbita pepo, to which pumpkin, zucchini, gourd, squash and marrow squash belong, was probably domesticated in northern Mexico between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, while that C. maxima would have been in the Andes at a later time.
It was in Austria that, in 1735, oil from pumpkin seeds of a local variety (styriaca), whose flesh is tasteless, was first expressed. It was first used in balms and creams for its medicinal properties. It then went into food. Researchers have discovered its favorable action on the prostate. They looked at the composition of this oil in order to understand the mechanism of this action. The manufacture of pumpkin oil has become a national institution in Austria. The pumpkin occupies five times more agricultural land there than vineyards.
It is likely that only the seeds of these plants were first consumed, the flesh initially being very bitter. Over the millennia, the selection has however allowed the production of fruits with softer flesh. The species Cucurbita pepo has spread northwards to become, along with corn and beans, the staple food of the Amerindians of North America, until the arrival of the first European conquerors.
The first pumpkins cross the Atlantic with Christopher Columbus who discovered them in 1492 in the Caribbean. Their seeds are planted all over Europe as well as in Asia. In his True and natural history of manners and the country of New France, published in 1663, the Frenchman Pierre Boucher writes: “The seeds which the savages cultivate, and which they had before we came to the country, are ( …) pumpkins of a different species than those of France “[sic]. The “French” species in question was probably C. maxima, but it is not known by which route it would have already reached Europe.
Despite its nutritional richness, pumpkin remains today a relatively little known and little cooked food. In North America, the pumpkin enjoys short-lived glory during the Halloween party, and makes a fleeting appearance on the tables of Americans on their Thanksgiving (end of November). But this popularity is essentially ornamental, a good part of the fruits ending their existence in the trash without having eaten their flesh or their seeds.
The pumpkin is really not suitable for small gardens, the creeping stems up to 12 m in length.
- Form mounds at least twenty centimeters high (up to 40 cm) and spaced 1 m apart. Ideally, we will have trained them the previous fall. The rows should be spaced 3 or 4 m apart.
- Make sure the soil is warmed up well before planting. Put a sheet of black plastic a few days in advance to heat it further.
- The soil pH should be between 6 and 7.5. If it is lower, add lime.
- Dig a hole in the mound and fill with compost or good decomposed manure. If necessary, add a natural potassium fertilizer.
- It is possible to sow in the open ground, but many prefer to start their plants indoors, three or four weeks before planting. Sow in individual containers, cucurbits hating their roots being disturbed. Transplant with the greatest delicacy.
If necessary, protect young plants from the cold by sheltering them with a plastic or textile tunnel for agricultural use.
- Irrigate regularly, but not excessively, until the time of fruit formation, when it will then be necessary to increase the water supply. Interrupt irrigation a few days before harvest.
- In case of severe infestation of striped beetle, treat with rotenone.
Powdery mildew (or powdery mildew) is now widespread and can affect the ripening of fruit if it appears too early in the season. Preventive applications of sulfur, garlic extract or baking soda solution every week will help limit the damage.
Ecology and environment
Originally, the fruits of the cucurbit family were bitter, due to the presence of cucurbitacin, a toxic compound that plants have developed in order to defend themselves against herbivores attracted by their succulent leaves, and against various insects. However, over the course of evolution, the striped beetle, the main insect predator of cucurbits, has developed a detoxification system allowing it to grow and reproduce by feeding on it despite their high rate of toxicity. What is more, it is the smell of this bitter compound which allows it to spot its favorite plants at very great distances. And her eggs, which she lays on the leaves, contain substantial quantities of this poison, which protects them from ants who seek to feed on it. This is’
In the southern United States, wild pumpkin plants behave like real weeds in other crops (including corn, soybeans and cotton). As the transfer of resistance genes has the effect of favoring their establishment in the fields, they are much more difficult to eradicate, which could require the use of powerful herbicides.
However, for humans, this cordial understanding constitutes a problem that researchers have partially solved by creating, by crossing and selection, varieties with reduced cucurbitacin contents. Crossbreeding and selection techniques, which are as old as agriculture itself, generally have little effect on wild populations of plants with which there is genetic compatibility. On the other hand, the recourse to transgenesis, which makes it possible to introduce into a plant genes of species, genera, families, even of different kingdoms can have negative consequences.