Pumpkin, scientifically known as Cucurbita pepo, belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Native to North America, pumpkin is a versatile ingredient that's delicious on its own, can be the star of a dish, part of a drink, or even as a dessert. They're cheap, versatile, and good for us.
- Shape and Size: Pumpkins come in many shapes and sizes. While some are round and squat, others can be elongated and even have a flat appearance.
- Color: Pumpkins are usually a bright orange, but other varieties may range in color from green to yellow or even white.
Pumpkins are versatile in the kitchen. They can be roasted, boiled, pureed, mashed, or used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to pies, waffles, and desserts.
What nutrients does pumpkin have?
Pumpkins contain high levels of beta carotene. This antioxidant is converted into vitamin A, which helps the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs function properly.
Pumpkin is also rich in potassium and fiber and is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Pumpkin is low in calories, it is low in saturated fat, and it is also low in cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and a good source of vitamin C, copper and manganese.
Fiber content: The fiber content in pumpkin supports digestive health and helps keep you full.
- Butternut Squash: This is a light brown pumpkin shaped like a pear. Its meat is drier and sweeter, and is best used in soups or grilled.
- Queensland Blue Pumpkin: This is a large blue-grey pumpkin, usually weighing 5-7kg. Its younger brother Light Blue weighs 2 kg. This type of pumpkin is best used in scones.
- Jarradelle Pumpkin: The Jarradelle Pumpkin is similar in appearance to the Queensland Blue Pumpkin, with a grayer color and sweet orange flesh. Perfect for making pumpkin pie.
- Dumpling Squash: This cute squash with yellow and orange stripes is often stuffed and then cooked.
- Japanese Pumpkin: Known as kabocha in Japan, this is a soft green/gray pumpkin with yellow and brown spots. Kent squash is a variety of Japanese squash that's perfect for roasting, boiling, grilling, or steaming.
- Nugget Squash: This small, bright squash is best cooked with the skin on.
- Field Pumpkins: Field pumpkins are usually round pumpkins used in jack-o-lanterns.
Flavors that go well with pumpkin
Pumpkin flavors include cheeses like cheese, blue cheese, feta, and parmesan. You can serve the squash on a plate with cheese and cured meats. As for herbs, pumpkin pairs well with cilantro, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Or make something sweet and add cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or orange peel.
Finally, remember that pumpkin seeds are edible, too. They are a nutritious dry snack and a great source of fiber. To utilize pumpkin seeds, simply clean and dry them with paper towels, then mix them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and some sea salt. Bake, stirring, until they are dry, golden, and delicious!
How should pumpkins be stored?
Already-cut pumpkins can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, while intact pumpkin skins can be stored in a cool, dry place (10-16 degrees) for several months.