Pumpkin is one of my favorite fruits! Huh fruits? Yes, a pumpkin is a fruit! It grows like a melon! The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon (πέπων), which is Greek for “large melon”, something round and large. The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and later American colonists the word that is used today, “pumpkin”.
All pumpkins are winter squash: mature fruit of certain species in the genus Cucurbita. A smooth and slightly ribbed skin, and deep yellow to orange color characterize commonly a pumpkin.
The main nutrients are lutein and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body. Other colors, including dark green, white or blue also exist. The term “pumpkin” has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning, and is used interchangeably with “squash” and “winter squash” in some areas.
Pumpkins are grown all around the world for a variety of reasons ranging from agricultural purposes (such as animal feed) to commercial and ornamental sales. Of the seven continents, only Antarctica is unable to produce pumpkins; the biggest international producers of pumpkins include the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, and China.
When is pumpkin – season? September through March. It’s a vegetable which lasts in your kitchen for some time. For up to three months it waits patiently for its preparation outside of the fridge.
How to choose a pumpkin? Smaller sized pumpkins have a more tender and sweet flavor. The largest pumpkins available weigh over 100 pounds. Choose a pumpkin that is heavy for its size and shows as few blemishes as possible.
Which spices fit a pumpkin? Allspice, brown sugar, butter, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger, nutmeg. The spices traditionally used with pumpkin are considered warming spices in Asian medicine. This aids in digestion and gives a boost of energy. Too much can cause burning in the stomach and nervousness.
A classic recipe? PUMPKIN SOUP
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ onion, diced
- ½ pumpkin, peeled and cubed
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, diced
- 2 tablespoon of an allspice mixture: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger and nutmeg
- 4-5 cups vegetable broth
- ½-1 cup coconut milk
- Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add pumpkin and garlic and continue to cook for a few more minutes.
- Add rosemary and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until pumpkin is soft and cooked through. Add salt to taste and the rest of the herbs.
- Puree soup in a blender (in batches) and return to the pot.
- Add coconut milk and simmer for another minute or two.
Serves 2 to 3 portion.
An advanced sweet recipe?
Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Gingerbread Crust
inspired by Fragrant Vanilla Cake
2 cups finely shredded dried coconut
3/4 cup buckwheat, sprouted and dehydrated (or additional coconut)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
12 soft medjool dates, pitted (if not soft, soak them until they are and drain them)
2 cups fresh young coconut meat
1/4 cup fresh coconut water (or filtered water)
3 Tbsp raw coconut nectar, raw agave nectar, or raw honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
seeds of one vanilla bean, or 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut butter, warmed to liquid
1 cup chopped raw carrots
1 tsp maple extract (optional)
1 inch chunk fresh ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
For the crust, combine coconut, buckwheat, sea salt, ginger, spices, dates in the food processor and process until fine crumbs and starting to hold together when squeezed. Press the mixture into a 9 inch square pan lined with foil and set aside in the fridge.
To make the filling, combine all ingredients but the coconut butter in a high speed blender or food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, add the coconut butter and process a minute more. Remove 1/4 of the mixture and set aside. To the remaining mixture in the food processor, add the carrot, maple, ginger, spices and puree until smooth (if you do not have a powerful food processor, you may need to strain the mixture and press it through a fine meshed strainer to get out the bits). Pour the “pumpkin” mixture over the crust, spread to smooth, then drop the plain reserved mixture over it randomly by the Tbsp.
Certainly a pumpkin is a great creative tool as well. If you like a special lampion for late summer nights give “carving” a try.