Pump­kin — giant with great variety

Autumn time is pump­kin time. Whether as a dec­o­ra­tion for Hal­loween in front of the door or as a dish for din­ner — every­one knows him and he is gain­ing more and more pop­u­lar­i­ty, because the pump­kin has very many healthy prop­er­ties and not only in the pulp. The seeds and the pump­kin seed oil extract­ed from them also have health-pro­mot­ing prop­er­ties. And quite inter­est­ing fact by the way: from a botan­i­cal point of view, the pump­kin belongs to the fam­i­ly of berries.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of the pumpkin

The pump­kin is one of the old­est cul­ti­vat­ed plants in the world. It has exist­ed for many hun­dreds of years and since then new pump­kin vari­eties have been bred again and again. There are now about 800 dif­fer­ent species that dif­fer in shape, col­or, size and taste.

Among the most pop­u­lar vari­eties of pump­kins are:

  • The Hokkai­do pump­kin
    It is by far the most pop­u­lar edi­ble pump­kin. From the end of August into the win­ter, you can find Hokkai­do fresh­ly har­vest­ed in almost every super­mar­ket. The pump­kin, which is bright orange inside and out, orig­i­nat­ed in Japan. It has a con­vinc­ing taste with its mild nut­ty aro­ma and great creami­ness, which makes soups in par­tic­u­lar a creamy treat. In addi­tion, its flesh is ten­der and low in fiber. What makes it par­tic­u­lar­ly pleas­ant to eat: it can be eat­en with its ten­der skin and is there­fore also suit­able for quick cook­ing.
    Good for: Soup, puree, stew, risot­to, pump­kin pie
  • The but­ter­nut squash
    Also at the top of the list of the most pop­u­lar pump­kins is the but­ter­nut or but­ter­nut squash. This pear-shaped pump­kin vari­ety is also now avail­able in sea­son in many super­mar­kets. Unlike Hokkai­do, the but­ter­nut squash is pale light yel­low with yel­low flesh. It is also low­er in calo­ries. Its del­i­cate, sweet fla­vor is rem­i­nis­cent of but­ter. The skin can gen­er­al­ly be eat­en as well. How­ev­er, it is rel­a­tive­ly firm, which increas­es the cook­ing time.
    Good for: Soup, sal­ads, oven veg­eta­bles, for stuffing
  • The spaghet­ti squash
    The spaghet­ti squash is known for its fibrous flesh, rem­i­nis­cent of spaghet­ti. It is elon­gat­ed and has a yel­low-beige skin. The skin hides its feath­ery and name­sake flesh, which can be eas­i­ly plucked into fine “noo­dles” after cook­ing. In the super­mar­ket, this form of pump­kin is rather rare in the offer, but in the mar­ket you can get it with­out any prob­lems.
    Good for: Low carb pas­ta dish­es, oven squash, for stuffing.

The veg­etable is grown near Frank­furt and Mannheim, in North Rhine-West­phalia and north­ern Ger­many. Its sales fig­ures have more than dou­bled in the past ten years.

Sea­son pump­kin is from Sep­tem­ber to January.

The ingre­di­ents of the pumpkin

Like just about any veg­etable, the pump­kin con­sists of a lot of water, to be exact, the veg­etable has a water con­tent of 90 %. Thus, it is also a very low-calo­rie veg­etable. On 100 g, for exam­ple, the nut­meg pump­kin is just 24 kcal. In addi­tion, it con­tains fiber, which ensures that we are full longer.

Like just about any veg­etable, the pump­kin con­sists of a lot of water, to be exact, the veg­etable has a water con­tent of 90 %. Thus, it is also a very low-calo­rie veg­etable. On 100 g, for exam­ple, the nut­meg pump­kin is just 24 kcal. In addi­tion, it con­tains fiber, which ensures that we are full longer.

How­ev­er, what makes the pump­kin so healthy are the sec­ondary plant com­pounds it con­tains, such as beta-carotene, mag­ne­sium, cal­ci­um and potas­si­um. In addi­tion, it is a real vit­a­min bomb. It con­tains vit­a­mins A, C and E, as well as vit­a­mins of the B group.

The effect of the pump­kin on our body

The sec­ondary plant com­pounds just men­tioned can have an anti-inflam­ma­to­ry effect on our body. In addi­tion, they have a pos­i­tive effect on our immune sys­tem and can reduce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. But not enough, the pump­kin, due to the beta-carotene it con­tains, can also help with eye dis­eases. The beta-carotene is the most impor­tant pre­cur­sor of vit­a­min A. For this rea­son, beta-carotene is also called provi­t­a­min A. Thus, the body can pro­duce vit­a­min A from beta-carotene when needed.

Pump­kin can also help with dia­betes. The fiber it con­tains not only fills us up, it also helps with diges­tion and sup­ports weight loss. In addi­tion, fiber also removes tox­ins from the body and the blood sug­ar lev­el is bal­anced. That is why pump­kin is always a good choice for diabetics.

Pump­kin seed oil as well as the pump­kin seeds are also con­sid­ered very healthy.

Pump­kin in the kitchen

The pump­kin can be pre­pared in many ways. For exam­ple, you can enjoy it as a soup, chut­ney, casse­role, jam or even as a side dish. It can even be used in cakes. Raw you can also process it into salad.

When prepar­ing it, you should make sure that you process it gen­tly. This means a short cook­ing time at low tem­per­a­ture to pre­serve the vit­a­mins. In addi­tion to cook­ing, you can also pre­pare the veg­eta­bles in the oven or steam or even boil. Note: The peel is not waste and can be eat­en with most pumpkins.

Pur­chase and stor­age of the pumpkin

The ide­al pump­kin sounds hol­low when tapped. In addi­tion, its stems should be woody. It is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant to note that the pump­kin should not have brown spots or bruis­es. In addi­tion, the stem should still be present.

Due to the fact that pump­kins have a robust shell, they have the best con­di­tions to sur­vive a long stor­age peri­od. With opti­mal stor­age, they can be kept for sev­er­al months. Dur­ing stor­age, it is impor­tant to note that they should not be washed before­hand and the stem should not be cut off. The place of stor­age should be cool and dark (for exam­ple, a cel­lar). In addi­tion, only ripe and intact (ie with­out stains and bruis­es) pump­kins can be stored.

Pump­kins can also be frozen well, whether raw, pureed or cut into small pieces. In the freez­er, the veg­eta­bles will keep for four to six months.

How about a deli­cious pump­kin soup? The AOK has the per­fect recipes for you:

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