Fall-winter seasonal peanut-shaped gourds, also known for their profile as fiddle gourds. With orange, hard and thin skin if we compare it with the skin of other varieties of pumpkin, although thick compared to other fruits of the same genus such as zucchini. It has a creamy and sweet pulp, which slightly recalls the flavor of walnuts and in which we find a cavity where the pipes are housed.
PROPERTIES AND BENEFITS OF PUMPKIN:
The properties of pumpkins are innumerable, especially the fall and winter varieties, they provide essential vitamins and minerals without providing hardly any calories.
Due to its nutritional composition, pumpkin is advisable at all stages of life, especially in childhood, during pregnancy and lactation, as it contributes to the good condition of the skin, bones and teeth, as well as the nervous system and digestive system.
Pumpkin is one of the most medicinal foods in our garden and, consumed regularly, it can be beneficial in the prevention of numerous health disorders.
The main component of the pumpkin is water (88.72 – 94.2 g per 100 grams of edible part, depending on the variety), which together with a low content of carbohydrates and its invaluable amount of fat, make this vegetable a food with a low caloric intake (12-40 Kcal per 100 grams of edible part depending on the variety). This high level of water makes it a very rehydrating food.
Pumpkins contain an abundance of fiber, it is soluble fiber that is very beneficial for the digestive system. Fiber is essential to maintain the health of the intestines for a number of reasons; because it helps to grow good intestinal flora (prebiotic effect), because it increases the volume of stools and reduces constipation problems and because it has a protective effect against colon and rectal cancer. Due to its high fiber content, pumpkin consumption is recommended in cases of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcer, constipation, intestinal parasites, etc.
Regarding its vitamin contribution, pumpkin stands out for being a good source of beta-carotenes or provitamin A, carotenes are pigments responsible for the orange color and that the body is capable of transforming into this vitamin and lycopene, the same antioxidant pigment of the tomato. Vitamin A intervenes in the vision process and is important for the proper functioning of mucous membranes, skin, bone growth, so it is recommended for the urinary system, especially for cystitis, prevention of kidney stones, fluid retention, Kidney failure, also contributes to the improvement of the immune system. In addition, carotenes also have an antioxidant function to protect against cancer, especially of the colon and bladder.
Rich in vitamin C, which favors the proper functioning of the cardiovascular and immune system, beneficial in controlling cholesterol and favors the absorption of iron, making it suitable for people suffering from anemia.
It contains vitamin E which, together with vitamin C and beta-carotenes, pumpkin is an excellent food to contribute to the care of eye health and prevent degenerative damage.
In the composition of the pumpkin we also find other vitamins of group B, such as B1, B2, B3 and B6, preventive of metabolic diseases such as obesity and excess uric acid. Specifically, vitamin B6 is essential for the proper functioning of the metabolism, because it intervenes in the synthesis reactions of amino acids, as well as in the use of sugar and fat reserves.
Regarding its mineral wealth, highlight its potassium content in addition to other minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, copper, calcium and a small amount of iron. Most of these minerals favor the immune system by favoring the generation of antibodies, others such as copper are involved in the metabolism of iron and magnesium with important antioxidant functions.
Finally, it is a vegetable that is very rich in amino acids (alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, glycine, histidine, isoleucine). These amino acids combine to form proteins. Pumpkin proteins are used by our body to build our muscles and are also necessary to maintain our muscle mass.
PROPERTIES AND BENEFITS OF PUMPKIN SEEDS:
Pumpkin pepitas or seeds deserve a special mention. Unlike other fruits and vegetables whose seeds must be discarded and are not edible, pumpkin seeds are in themselves a superfood with important nutritional properties. Pumpkin seeds have a mild, slightly sweet flavor, and we can eat them raw, dry and toasted, they constitute a healthy appetizer.
Rich in magnesium, a mineral essential for the good health of the intestine, heart, teeth and bones, as well as helping to regulate blood pressure.
Another very present mineral in pumpkin seeds is zinc, a rare element in plant foods that supports the immune system and regulates insulin production and mood. It is key to the proper functioning of senses such as taste and smell. Keeps the skin healthy. Due to its zinc content, pumpkin seeds are used in medicine to treat and reduce some of the effects of benign prostate hyperplasia, using an extract made from pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid that induces the production of serotonin and melatonin, thus promoting sleep regulation
They have a good amount of essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6; heart-healthy acids that help lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation in arthritis.
Traditionally, pumpkin seeds and more specifically pumpkin oil have had a medicinal use to combat intestinal worms and to eliminate fluid retention due to its anti-inflammatory power.
HOW TO EAT THE PUMPKIN:
Pumpkin pulp can be eaten raw, mainly grated like a carrot or blended to make juice. Traditionally it is consumed mainly cooked, it can be cooked, roasted, in the microwave and even in the pan. It is used in numerous culinary preparations: in cream, soups, broths, purees, baked, steamed, boiled, sautéed, sautéed, gratin, as a complement to stews, as a garnish, in cakes, cakes, custards, on pizza, etc. . It is also used to prepare jams, syrups or jams. The angel hair with which sweets and cakes are filled is made with the confectionery variety.
Before using the pumpkin, it is advisable to clean it well with a damp cloth. The skin of the pumpkin is tough, so to peel it requires strength. A trick that facilitates this work is to blanch the pumpkin for five minutes in boiling water or in the microwave, that way the skin becomes soft and it is easier to remove it.
Pumpkin seeds can be roasted and salted, but then some of the oils they contain are damaged. They can also be eaten raw or steamed with the pulp and then eaten by peeling them with your teeth. In this way they better preserve all their properties
HOW TO STORE PUMPKIN:
The winter variety has a longer shelf life, as it has a lower proportion of water. The summer variety is more perishable as it has a higher proportion of water and a thinner skin that does not serve as protection. The sweeter the pumpkins, the less time they should be stored. Pumpkins must be washed, just before use, not before.
Ideally, to preserve them is a cool and dry place (temperature between 10ºC and 16ºC), in optimal conditions they can be kept for 3 to 6 months. Once split, they last at least a week in the fridge, covered with film, covering the skin, or stored in a perforated bag. Also once clean, skinless and chopped, preferably in large 2-3 cm cubes we can keep them frozen raw, roasted, boiled or fried. As the pumpkin is composed mostly of water (90%), when defrosted it is possible that it remains watery and flabby. This does not mean that it is in bad shape
ORIGINS AND TECHNIQUES OF PUMPKIN CULTIVATION:
Its origin seems to be a mystery, although its cultivation dates back to approximately 5000 BC, in different parts of the world (in this regard there are two hypotheses, one that places them in America and the other in South Asia). It is known that in prehistoric times its uses were multiple, they were used to carry water, as a kitchen utensil, a musical instrument, a toy and even clothes were taken out of it.
Many ancient authors cite it in their writings and it is known that its cultivation already occurred among the Hebrews and Egyptians. Initially it was cultivated for its seeds, but this custom gradually disappeared as varieties with more fruity flavors and a greater amount of pulp were obtained.
In the 15th century when it was introduced in Europe through the Spanish conquerors (who learned to cultivate them in their contact with the natives), its sowing spread very quickly, and being used for culinary purposes to cook its pulp, make jams or take advantage of its seeds for consumption, both as flour and as the oil of its extraction.
In Spain, half of the pumpkins consumed come from the Canary Islands and Andalusia. They are also grown in Valencia, Murcia and Catalonia, but the major world producers are China, India, Ukraine, the United States, Egypt and Mexico.
They belong to the Cucurbita maxima, C. moschata and C. mixta families, and there are many varieties of different sizes and colors – from yellow to orange, through red, green, blue and gray. It is an annual plant Creeping with very long stems covered with coarse hair, which can reach up to 10 meters in length. Lobed and heart-shaped leaves. The flowers are large and pretty with a yellow or white petal coloring.
The fiddle or peanut type gourd, with a medium vigor plant. Fruit of 750 g to 2 Kg of weight. Sowing takes place between March and May (depending on the areas).
In order for its cultivation to be optimal, it needs a large amount of daily light, a temperature of around 20-25ºC and undemanding soils, although to keep it in good condition it should be removed, avoiding the appearance of weeds.
As a general rule, this pumpkin needs a large amount of water for its vegetative development. Irrigation must be frequent and regular. It is important that during their development they do not lack water, but we must also be careful not to flood the soil to prevent the roots from rotting.
Pruning will be necessary to limit the excessive growth of the bush and favor the production of fruits, throughout the vegetative season it is advisable to suppress the secondary branches, even if they bear new fruits, since they would not have time to ripen.
The harvest will be harvested about 6 months after sowing. The color of the pumpkin does not indicate its degree of maturity, so to harvest them it is better to wait for the first autumn frosts. When cutting the pumpkin, it is advisable to leave a piece of stem of about 5 cm. Once harvested, the fruits are kept for a long time during the winter, if they are kept in a dry and cool place, not piled up.