Pumpkin is from the plant family Cucurbitaceae of the genus Cucurbita pepo. It is a common genus and species with many cultivars including; Acorn squash, Delicata squash, Gem squash, Heart of gold squash, Pattypan squash, Pumpkin, Zucchini and many others. Some Pumpkins belong to other species’ groups such as Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita mixta. The Species “mixta” is what I more commonly recognise as a true Gourd, though variations do exist within the genus.

Pumpkin is a fruit but it is treated like a vegetable in most cases. Pumpkin is in fact a form of berry but it is not usually recognised as such. A Fruit of a plant is generally the receptacle for holding the seed. It can be a food used in sweet or savoury dishes. Some fruits are best in savouries, others in sweet dishes but most can be used in Both sweet and savoury meals.

Pumpkin seed’s are usually planted in Mid Spring and grow through summer to be harvested before winter frosts begin. In Australia, what we refer to as Pumpkin is often recognised as Winter Squash in the United States.

Nutritionally, Pumpkin isn’t a huge source of major nutrients but it does contain rich amounts of Vitamin A and is a good source of Vitamin C, Potassium, Dietary Fibre and Manganese. They also contain Folate, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5). Deep yellow or orange vegetables are recognised as being high in Vitamin A. The richer or darker the colour the More Vitamin A.

Pumpkin is high in carbohydrates so incorporating in the diet is very filling and it is low in fat. This makes it an ideal bulking food in soups and casseroles. It also acts as a thickener as well.

Both Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can be included in the diet.

Pumpkin is delicious boiled and mashed on its own or mashed with potatoes. It can also be boiled and eaten as a side vegetable. Baked Pumpkin is common in our home, as I am sure it is in many others. We would traditionally bake pumpkin with the skin still on. This would help hold the pumpkin together as it got softer, preventing it from going to mush in the pan.

Pumpkin makes excellent soup or it can be added to Stews or Casseroles.

The Pumpkin is from the Greek word meaning Large melon. Pumpkin made its first known mention in print as a food in the 17th Century. Its use however, dates back to between 5000 and 7000 BC.

Pumpkins in America are recognised for their use a Jack O’Lanterns used around Halloween. Its interesting to read the story of how the Jack O’Lantern came about. I also found it interesting that the original Jack O’Lantern was a carved out Turnip.

Author's Bio: 

Eric J. Smith is an Experienced Horticulturalist with a keen interest in Organic Gardening. Eric's interest in Organics also shows in his interest in Organic Nutrition and Organic Skincare. More information can be found on these by visiting his websites...

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