Facts about Pumpkin
Queen of fall
Pumpkin is a delicious, nutritious vegetable, and the undisputed symbol of fall. It is an indispensable attribute of the American holiday Halloween.
1The pumpkin is an annual plant in the Cucurbitaceae family.
The Cucurbitaceae family includes about 1,000 species. These plants grow under natural conditions in tropical and subtropical areas, rarely in the temperate zone. They have a relatively largest share of the flora of dry areas of Africa. In addition, this family includes many valuable plants, consumed as vegetables and fruits (pumpkin, cucumber, squash, zucchini, watermelon, melon, Lagenaria, loofah, and many others).
2The genus Cucurbita - pumpkin - includes about 20 species. The best-known cultivated species are giant, musk, and classic orange pumpkin.
- A giant pumpkin is a valuable raw material for industry (distilling, baking, fruit and vegetable processing, animal feed). Its edible after-cooked flesh can also be candied or made into marmalade. Its seeds are also valued, both for direct consumption and processed into oil;
- The classic orange pumpkin is grown as a vegetable, forage, and medicinal plant. It is included in the European Union’s Register of Cultivated Plants. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the New World (its seeds were found in Mexican tombs some 10,000 years ago);
- Musk pumpkin has a similar taste and nutritional qualities as the classic orange pumpkin. It is also grown as an ornamental plant. In appearance, it resembles a large, yellow-beige pear. It is easy to peel, as its skin is thin and soft.
3The pumpkin is native to South America and cultivated as early as 3,000 BC.
It was discovered by Indians living in the current area of Peru, who believed that pumpkins were created from the bodies of dead gods and were, therefore, an object of worship. Nonetheless, pumpkin was the basic ingredient of their cuisine, and they used the hollowed-out fruits as bowls and dishes.
4It was a delicacy on the tables of the ancient Greeks and Romans, who served it fried in honey or grated - in a marinade of wine.
In the 15th century, thanks to Christopher Columbus, it found its way to Europe, where it was initially treated as an exotic decoration. However, over time, its culinary and health-promoting qualities were appreciated.
5The French called it “le potiron” - a large mushroom, while the English called it “pumpkin.”
6In addition to its culinary qualities, its health benefits were quickly discovered.
As early as the 16th century, books on pumpkins’ effect on the digestive system or reducing fever began to be published. It was also treated as an aphrodisiac for men, who were eager to consume pumpkin in various forms, especially before their wedding night.
7Oil pressed from its seeds helps cleanse the body of all parasites and fungi.
The knowledge gained and applied to medicine in ancient times is still relevant today.
8A pumpkin is a creeping plant whose shoots can reach up to 12 meters.
The shoots are hairy and contain clinging whiskers. Leaves are large, heart-shaped, with hairy edges. The root system of the pumpkin is well developed but shallow. Thanks to adventitious roots, it attaches well to the ground. Pumpkin flowers are intensely yellow and odorless. The fruit is a large berry, reaching a weight of up to 200 kg (the giant pumpkin can weight up to 800 kg).
9There are around 800 pumpkin varieties, but only about 200 are edible.
The variety of pumpkin colors and shapes is impressive. There are white, yellow, green, black, mottled, and striped, and their shapes range from oval to onion-shaped.
10Pumpkin flesh is a rich source of vitamins and minerals.
It is a natural vitamin bomb containing B vitamins, vitamin C, E, PP, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and trace amounts of selenium, copper, manganese, and zinc. The more orange the flesh is, the higher the carotenoid content. Pumpkin contains negligible amounts of fats and proteins and slightly more carbohydrates. The amount of fiber is essential in aiding digestion.