The word pumpkin comes from The British Pumpion which came from the French word Pompon, which came from the ancient Greek, Pepon which was also a word for a melon. You can see how words change similar to the proverbial line of 100 people whispering the same sentence one at a time in the next persons ear.
The name of the Genus is Cucurbita and the pumpkin is considered a fruit. It is the same family as gourds, squashes, soft skin varieties like zuchinni, and summer squash, melons and even cucumbers. The plant interestingly enough has both the male and female flowers on it.
Here are the make and female flower of the pumpkin on the same plant
Thank you to Seven and Half Saturn Blog
Here is the male
Here is the female
When did the first pumpkin appear?
The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C., were found in Mexico. The pumpkin was perfect for seafaring explorers from all over the world to bring back to their countries. The first pumpkins are believed to be more of the crooked neck variety not the creased orange or gray ones you see today. Many archeologists believe that pumpkins were first farmed with sunflowers and beans in small settlements.
What is the difference between a Pumpkin and a Squash ?
It depends on what you want to call a pumpkin. In some countries like Australia, New Zealand and much of Asia any thick skinned winter squash is called a pumpkin. In the states it is mostly the Connecticut field variety and others that are orange, and ribbed.
What are the different varieties of Pumpkins?
How much of the world grows Pumpkins?
Pumpkins are grown in every major part of the world, for food , livestock feed and for ornamental uses like Jack 'O Lanterns. Out of the seven continents, only Antarctica is unable to produce pumpkins.
Pumpkins can grow to incredible sizes.
The largest recorded pumpkin .....
Grown in Rhode Island, the world’s biggest pumpkin was shown at the Topsfield Fair of Massachusetts in 2007, weighing 1689 lbs.
Historically the larger pumpkins like these were used for livestock feed.
Why is Pumpkin Sometimes Called one of the 3 sisters?
This is one of the most interesting thing about the pumpkin I feel.
The Native Americans planted corn and when it had sprouted a few inches they mounded up soil around the base and planted beans and squash. or pumpkins. The corn stalk would act as a natural trellis for the bean vines and the beans put nitrogen in the soil for the corn. The Pumpkin vines would give cover for the soil keeping moisture in, as well as provide shelter for the shallow roots.
More about the 3 sisters Companion Planting
Pumpkin and the First Thanksgiving
Pumpkin was for sure at the first Thanksgiving for the pilgrims. They had much to thank the pumpkin for, as corn and wheat crops were not very dependable. The pumpkin is a very nutritious food and most likely kept them alive many winters. Here is a poem from the era that tells it all.
For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon."
Pilgrim verse, circa 1633
However the first pumpkin pie may have not had a nice fluted pastry crust. Using the pumpkin as a cooking vessel was very practical. They cut off the top, scooped out the seeds and put cream, spices, eggs and honey, put the top back on and placed it in the coals to roast. In a few hours the top could be taked off and scoop out the
Recipe for Pumpkin pie baked in the shell
Different ways to use pumpkin in cooking;
For Sweet dishes
Pumpkin is used for all kinds of cooking.
When was the first pumpkin pie?
The basics of pumpkin pie go back to
writings in Medivel times sometime before the 1500's.
Pumpkin was stewed with sugar and spices and
wrapped in pastry.
More on the history of pumpkin pie.
Other Pumpkin Recipes:
Plachenda (German pumpkin turnovers)
Pumpkin Stew in the Shell
Pumpkin Pie Latte
Also for savory dishes
Pumpkin used to stretch meat
Pumpkin added to a beef stew
Roasted Pumpkin soup in the shell
They even eat the seeds?
The pumpkin seeds are roasted and eaten
Ground pumpkin seeds are used to flavor
and thicken sauces, mostly in Mexican cuisine.
Recipe for Pumpkin Seed Sauce
How did the Jack 'O Lantern get started?
in a nutshell the Jack o' Lantern derives from the term Jack of the Lantern, who is an Irish folklore character that made a deal with the devil and the devil that went wrong. He made a deal with the devil not to take his soul so he wanders the earth with a carved out a turnip and filled it with embers given by the devil for him to see. For the full very interesting
Folk story of Jack 'O Lantern go here.
courtesy of Green Thumb International
a figurine showing Jack with his Turnip
Why you should include pumpkin (or yellow squash) in your weekly menu. (Think Eyes)
Pumpkin meat is very high in carotenoids. They're what give pumpkins their orange coloróbut that's the least of their benefits. Carotenoids are really good at neutralizing free radicals, nasty molecules that can attack cell membranes and leave the cells vulnerable to damage.
Pumpkins are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which scavenge free radicals in the lens of the eye. Therefore, they may help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.
Besides carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are all antioxidants, pumpkins have a lot of common nutrients, like iron, zinc, and fiber. Iron, of course, is needed by red blood cells. Zinc deficiency may be related to osteoporosis of the hip and spine in older men. And fiber is important for bowel health.
Recipes and Links
Links and acknowledgements
Online Etymology dictionary
The Penguin Companion to Food