A pumpkin is a cultivar of winter squash that is round with smooth, slightly ribbed skin, and is most often deep yellow to orange in coloration.[1] The thick shell contains the seeds and pulp. The name is most commonly used for cultivars of Cucurbita pepo, but some cultivars of Cucurbita maxima, C. argyrosperma, and C. moschata with similar appearance are also sometimes called "pumpkins".[1]

Pumpkins
A field of pumpkins

Native to North America (northeastern Mexico and the southern United States),[1] pumpkins are one of the oldest domesticated plants, having been used as early as 7,000 to 5,500 BC.[1] Pumpkins are widely grown for food, as well as for aesthetic and recreational purposes.[2] Pumpkin pie, for instance, is a traditional part of Thanksgiving meals in Canada and the United States, and pumpkins are frequently carved as jack-o'-lanterns for decoration around Halloween, although commercially canned pumpkin purée and pumpkin pie fillings are usually made from varieties of winter squash different from the ones used for jack-o'-lanterns.[1]

Etymology and terminologyEdit

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the English word pumpkin derives from the Ancient Greek word πέπων (romanized pepon), meaning 'melon'.[3][4] Under this theory, the term transitioned through the Latin word peponem and the Middle French word pompon to the Early Modern English pompion, which was changed to pumpkin by 17th-century English colonists, shortly after encountering pumpkins upon their arrival in what is now the northeastern United States.[3]

An alternate derivation for pumpkin is the Massachusett word pôhpukun, meaning 'grows forth round'.[5] This term would likely have been used by the Wampanoag people (who speak the Wôpanâak dialect of Massachusett) when introducing pumpkins to English Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony, located in present-day Massachusetts.[6] The English word squash is also derived from a Massachusett word, variously transcribed as askꝏtasquash,[7] ashk8tasqash, or, in the closely-related Narragansett language, askútasquash.[8]

The term pumpkin has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning,[9] and is used interchangeably with "squash" and "winter squash".[1] In North America and the United Kingdom, pumpkin traditionally refers to only certain round orange varieties of winter squash, predominantly derived from Cucurbita pepo, while in New Zealand and Australian English, the term pumpkin generally refers to all winter squash.[10]

DescriptionEdit

 
Cross section of a pumpkin

Pumpkins, like other squash, originated in northeastern Mexico and southern United States.[1] The oldest evidence is pumpkin fragments found in Mexico that are dated between 7,000 and 5,500 BC.[1] Pumpkin fruits are a type of botanical berry known as a pepo.[1][11]

Traditional C. pepo pumpkins generally weigh between 3 and 8 kilograms (6 and 18 lb), though the largest cultivars (of the species C. maxima) regularly reach weights of over 34 kg (75 lb).[12]

The color of pumpkins derives from orange carotenoid pigments, including beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha and beta carotene, all of which are provitamin A compounds converted to vitamin A in the body.[13]

TaxonomyEdit

All pumpkins are winter squash, mature fruit of certain species in the genus Cucurbita. Characteristics commonly used to define "pumpkin" include smooth and slightly ribbed skin,[14] and deep yellow to orange color.[14] Circa 2005, white pumpkins had become increasingly popular in the United States.[15] Other colors, including dark green (as with some oilseed pumpkins), also exist.

The traditional American pumpkin used for jack-o-lanterns is the Connecticut field variety.[2][16][17][18]

Giant pumpkins are large squash with a pumpkin-like appearance that grow to exceptional size, with the largest exceeding a tonne in mass.[19][20] Most are varieties of Cucurbita maxima, and were developed through the efforts of botanical societies and enthusiast farmers.[19]

ProductionEdit

Pumpkin production – 2020
(includes squash and gourds)
Country millions of tonnes
  China 7.4
  India 5.1
  Ukraine 1.3
  Russia 1.1
  United States 1.1
  Spain 0.8
World 28.0
Source: FAOSTAT of the United Nations[21]

In 2020, world production of pumpkins (including squash and gourds) was 28 million tonnes, with China accounting for 27% of the total. Ukraine and Russia each produced about one million tonnes.[21]

In the United StatesEdit

 
A pumpkin patch in Winchester, Oregon

As one of the most popular crops in the United States, in 2017 over 680 million kilograms (1.5 billion pounds) of pumpkins were produced.[22] The top pumpkin-producing states include Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.[2] Pumpkin is the state squash of Texas.[23]

According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, 95% of the U.S. crop intended for processing is grown in Illinois.[24] And 41% of the overall pumpkin crop for all uses originates in the state, more than five times the nearest competitor (California, whose pumpkin industry is centered in the San Joaquin Valley), and the majority of that comes from five counties in the central part of the state.[25] Nestlé, operating under the brand name Libby's, produces 85% of the processed pumpkin in the United States, at their plant in Morton, Illinois. In the fall of 2009, rain in Illinois devastated the Nestlé crop, which combined with a relatively weak 2008 crop depleting that year's reserves resulted in a shortage affecting the entire country during the Thanksgiving holiday season.[26] Another shortage, somewhat less severe, affected the 2015 crop.[27][28] The pumpkin crop grown in the western United States, which constitutes approximately 3–4% of the national crop, is primarily for the organic market.[29] Terry County, Texas, has a substantial pumpkin industry, centered largely on miniature pumpkins.[25]

Pumpkins are a warm-weather crop that is usually planted in early July. The specific conditions necessary for growing pumpkins require that soil temperatures 8 centimetres (3 in) deep are at least 15.5 °C (60 °F) and that the soil holds water well. Pumpkin crops may suffer if there is a lack of water or because of cold temperatures (in this case, below 18 °C or 65 °F). Soil that is sandy with poor water retention or poorly drained soils that become waterlogged after heavy rain are both detrimental. Pumpkins are, however, rather hardy, and even if many leaves and portions of the vine are removed or damaged, the plant can quickly grow secondary vines to replace what was removed.[22]

Pumpkins produce both a male and female flower, with fertilization usually performed by bees.[22] In America, pumpkins have historically been pollinated by the native squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa, but that bee has declined, probably partly due to pesticide (imidacloprid) sensitivity.[30] Ground-based bees, such as squash bees and the eastern bumblebee, are better suited to manage the larger pollen particles that pumpkins create,[31][32] but today most commercial plantings are pollinated by hives of honeybees, which also allows the production and sale of honey that the bees produce from the pumpkin pollen. One hive per acre (0.4 hectares, or 5 hives per 2 hectares) is recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If there are inadequate bees for pollination, gardeners may have to hand pollinate. Inadequately pollinated pumpkins usually start growing but fail to develop.

NutritionEdit

Pumpkin, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy109 kJ (26 kcal)
6.5 g
Sugars2.76 g
Dietary fiber0.5 g
0.1 g
1 g
VitaminsQuantity
%DV
Vitamin A equiv.
53%
426 μg
29%
3100 μg
1500 μg
Thiamine (B1)
4%
0.05 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
9%
0.11 mg
Niacin (B3)
4%
0.6 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
6%
0.298 mg
Vitamin B6
5%
0.061 mg
Folate (B9)
4%
16 μg
Vitamin C
11%
9 mg
Vitamin E
3%
0.44 mg
Vitamin K
1%
1.1 μg
MineralsQuantity
%DV
Calcium
2%
21 mg
Iron
6%
0.8 mg
Magnesium
3%
12 mg
Manganese
6%
0.125 mg
Phosphorus
6%
44 mg
Potassium
7%
340 mg
Sodium
0%
1 mg
Zinc
3%
0.32 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water91.6 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

In a 100-gram (3.5 oz) amount, raw pumpkin provides 110 kilojoules (26 kilocalories) of food energy and is an excellent source (20% or more the Daily Value, DV) of provitamin A beta-carotene and vitamin A (53% DV) (table). Vitamin C is present in moderate content (11% DV), but no other nutrients are in significant amounts (less than 10% DV, table). Pumpkin is 92% water, 6.5% carbohydrate, 0.1% fat and 1% protein (table).

UsesEdit

CookingEdit

 
Pumpkin pie is a popular way of preparing pumpkin.

Pumpkins have several culinary uses. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and the flowers. In the United States and Canada, pumpkin is a popular Halloween and Thanksgiving staple.[33] Pumpkin purée is sometimes prepared and frozen for later use.[34]

When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, steamed, or roasted. In its native North America, pumpkins are an important part of the traditional autumn harvest, eaten mashed[35] and making its way into soups and purées. Often, it is made into pumpkin pie, various kinds of which are a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holidays. In Canada, Mexico, the United States, Europe and China, the seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack.

Pumpkins that are still small and green may be eaten in the same way as summer squash or zucchini. In the Middle East, pumpkin is used for sweet dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called halawa yaqtin. In the Indian subcontinent, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices in a dish called kadu ka halwa. Pumpkin is used to make sambar in Udupi cuisine. In Guangxi province, China, the leaves of the pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable or in soups. In Australia and New Zealand, pumpkin is often roasted in conjunction with other vegetables. In Japan, small pumpkins are served in savory dishes, including tempura. In Myanmar, pumpkins are used in both cooking and desserts (candied). The seeds are a popular sunflower seed substitute. In Thailand, small pumpkins are steamed with custard inside and served as a dessert. In Vietnam, pumpkins are commonly cooked in soups with pork or shrimp. In Italy, it can be used with cheeses as a savory stuffing for ravioli. Also, pumpkin can be used to flavor both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.

In the southwestern United States and Mexico, pumpkin and squash flowers are popular and widely available food items. They may be used to garnish dishes, or dredged in a batter then fried in oil. Pumpkin leaves are a popular vegetable in the western and central regions of Kenya; they are called seveve, and are an ingredient of mukimo,[36] respectively, whereas the pumpkin itself is usually boiled or steamed. The seeds are popular with children who roast them on a pan before eating them. Pumpkin leaves are also eaten in Zambia, where they are called chibwabwa and are boiled and cooked with groundnut paste as a side dish.[37]

LeavesEdit

 
Pumpkin leaf kimchi

Pumpkin leaves, usually of C. moschata varieties, are eaten as a vegetable in Korean cuisine.

SeedsEdit

 
Pumpkin seeds (matured)

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are edible and nutrient-rich. They are about 1.5 cm (0.5 in) long, flat, asymmetrically oval, light green in color and usually covered by a white husk, although some pumpkin varieties produce seeds without them. Pumpkin seeds are a popular snack that can be found hulled or semi-hulled at many grocery stores. Per ounce serving, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc.[38]

Pumpkin seed oilEdit

Pumpkin seed oil, a thick oil pressed from roasted pumpkin seeds, appears red or green in color depending on the oil layer thickness, container properties, and hue shift of the observer's vision.[39][40] When used for cooking or as a salad dressing, the pumpkin seed oil is generally mixed with other oils because of its robust flavor.[41] The Pumpkin seed oil contains fatty acids, such as oleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid.[42]

Other usesEdit

Pumpkins have been used as folk medicine by Native Americans to treat intestinal worms and urinary ailments, and this Native American remedy was adopted by American doctors in the early nineteenth century as an anthelmintic for the expulsion of worms.[43][qualify evidence] In Germany and southeastern Europe, seeds of C. pepo were also used as folk remedies to treat irritable bladder and benign prostatic hyperplasia.[44][45][qualify evidence] In China, C. moschata seeds were also used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of the parasitic disease schistosomiasis[46] and for the expulsion of tape worms.[47][qualify evidence]. Pumpkin seed meal (C. moschata) represents a rich source of nutrients for poultry feeding with significant improvements in eggs for human consumption.[48]

CultureEdit

HalloweenEdit

 
A pumpkin carved into a jack-o'-lantern for Halloween

Pumpkins are commonly carved into decorative lanterns called jack-o'-lanterns for the Halloween season. Traditionally Britain and Ireland would carve lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or swede,[49]. They continue to be popular choices today as carved lanterns in Scotland and Northern Ireland, although the British purchased a million pumpkins for Halloween in 2004.[50]

The practice of carving pumpkins for Halloween originated from an Irish myth about a man named "Stingy Jack".[2] The turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween,[51] but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips.[51] Not until 1837 does jack-o'-lantern appear as a term for a carved vegetable lantern,[52] and the carved pumpkin lantern association with Halloween is recorded in 1866.[53]

In the United States, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween.[54] In 1900, an article on Thanksgiving entertaining recommended a lit jack-o'-lantern as part of the festivities that encourage kids and families to join together to make their own jack-o'-lanterns.[54]

The Association of pumpkins with harvest time and pumpkin pie at Canadian and American Thanksgiving reinforce its iconic role. Starbucks turned this association into marketing with its pumpkin spice latte, introduced in 2003.[55] This has led to a notable trend in pumpkin and spice flavored food products in North America.[56] This is despite the fact that North Americans rarely buy whole pumpkins to eat other than when carving jack-o'-lanterns. Illinois farmer Sarah Frey is called "the Pumpkin Queen of America" and sells around five million pumpkins annually, predominantly for use as lanterns.[57][58]

ChunkingEdit

Pumpkin chunking is a competitive activity in which teams build various mechanical devices designed to throw a pumpkin as far as possible. Catapults, trebuchets, ballistas and air cannons are the most common mechanisms.[citation needed]

Pumpkin festivals and competitionsEdit

 
Giant pumpkins

Growers of giant pumpkins often compete to grow the most massive pumpkins. Festivals may be dedicated to the pumpkin and these competitions. In the United States, the town of Half Moon Bay, California, holds an annual Art and Pumpkin Festival, including the World Champion Pumpkin Weigh-Off.[59]

The record for the world's heaviest pumpkin, 1,226 kg (2,703 lb), was established in Italy in 2021.[20]

Folklore and fictionEdit

There is a connection in folklore and popular culture between pumpkins and the supernatural, such as:

  • The custom of carving jack-o-lanterns from pumpkins derives from folklore about a lost soul wandering the earth.
  • In the fairy tale Cinderella, the fairy godmother turns a pumpkin into a carriage for the title character, but at midnight it reverts to a pumpkin.
  • In some adaptations of Washington Irving's ghost story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the headless horseman is said to use a pumpkin as a substitute head.

In most folklore the carved pumpkin is meant to scare away evil spirits on All Hallows' Eve (that is, Halloween), when the dead were purported to walk the earth.

GalleryEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Cucurbita pepo L." Kew Science, Plants of the World, Royal Botanic Garden, UK. 2018. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Wolford, Ron; Banks, Drusilla (2008). "Pumpkins and More". University of Illinois Extension. Retrieved February 19, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Pumpkin". Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper Ltd. 2020. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  4. ^ Paris, Harry S. (1989). "Historical Records, Origins, and Development of the Edible Cultivar Groups of Cucurbita pepo (Cucurbitaceae)". Economic Botany. New York Botanical Garden Press. 43 (4): 423–443. doi:10.1007/bf02935916. JSTOR 4255187. S2CID 29052282.
  5. ^ "Fun With Words". Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  6. ^ Kelly, Nataly (2012). Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms The World. New York: Perigee. ISBN 9780399537974.
  7. ^ Trumbull, James Hammond (1903). Natick Dictionary. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 224.
  8. ^ "Definition of Squash". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  9. ^ "Horticulture Questions and Answers". Garden Help FAQ. Missouri Botanical Garden.
  10. ^ Ferriol, María; Picó, Belén (2007). "3". Handbook of Plant Breeding: Vegetables I. New York: Springer. p. 317. ISBN 978-0-387-72291-7. The common terms "pumpkin", "squash", "gourd", "cushaw", "ayote", "zapallo", "calabaza", etc. are often applied indiscriminately to different cultivated species of the New World genus Cucurbita L. (Cucurbitaceae): C. pepo L., C.  maxima Duchesne, C. moschata Duchesne, C. argyrosperma C. Huber and C. ficifolia Bouché.
  11. ^ Schrager, Victor (2004). The Compleat Squash: A Passionate Grower's Guide to Pumpkins, Squash, and Gourds. New York: Artisan. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-57965-251-7.
  12. ^ "Pumpkin". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2007. Retrieved November 28, 2007.
  13. ^ Provesi JG, Dias CO, Amante ER (2011). "Changes in carotenoids during processing and storage of pumpkin puree". Food Chemistry. 128 (1): 195–202. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2011.03.027. PMID 25214348.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
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  27. ^ "News - Pumpkin shortage in the U.S. has Canada to the rescue - The Weather Network". www.theweathernetwork.com.
  28. ^ "Here's What Happened to the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015". Fortune.
  29. ^ Severson, Kim (November 17, 2009). "Libby's Warns of a Canned Pumpkin Shortage". The New York Times.
  30. ^ Williams, Roger (2009). "Effects of imidacloprid-based Insecticides on the Native Cucurbit Pollinator, Peponapis pruinosa". US Interagency IPM Projects. Archived from the original on October 28, 2018. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  31. ^ Canto-Aguilar, M.L.; Parra-Tabla, V. (2000). "Importance of Conserving Alternative Pollinators: Assessing the Pollination Efficiency of the Squash Bee, Peponapis limitaris in Cucurbita moschata (Cucurbitaceae)". Journal of Insect Conservation. 4 (3): 201–208. doi:10.1023/A:1009685422587. S2CID 9891755.
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  37. ^ "Pumpkin Leaves Chibwabwa". Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  38. ^ "Nutrition facts for pumpkin seeds, whole, roasted, without salt". SELF Nutritiondata. Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  39. ^ Kreft, S.; Kreft, M. (2007). "Physicochemical and physiological basis of dichromatic colour". Naturwissenschaften. 94 (11): 935–939. Bibcode:2007NW.....94..935K. doi:10.1007/s00114-007-0272-9. PMID 17534588. S2CID 33069967.
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  41. ^ Tyler Herbst, Sharon (2001). "Pumpkin-Seed Oil". The New Food Lover's Companion (3rd ed.). Barron. p. 550. Retrieved February 14, 2008.[dead link]
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  48. ^ Vlaicu, Petru Alexandru; Panaite, Tatiana Dumitra (June 24, 2021). "Effect of dietary pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) seed meal on layer performance and egg quality characteristics". Animal Bioscience. 35 (2): 236–246. doi:10.5713/ab.21.0044. ISSN 2765-0189. PMC 8738952. PMID 34293842.
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  50. ^ "Pumpkins Passions". BBC. October 31, 2005. Retrieved October 19, 2006.
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  52. ^ Hawthorne, Nathaniel (1837). "The Great Carbuncle". Twice-Told Tales. Hide it [the great carbuncle] under thy cloak, say'st thou? Why, it will gleam through the holes, and make thee look like a jack-o'-lantern!
  53. ^ Daily News (Kingston, Ontario), November 1, 1866:
    The old time custom of keeping up Hallowe'en was not forgotten last night by the youngsters of the city. They had their maskings and their merry-makings, and perambulated the streets after dark in a way [that] was no doubt amusing to themselves. There was a great sacrifice of pumpkins from which to make transparent heads and face, lighted up by the unfailing two inches of tallow candle.
  54. ^ a b The Day We Celebrate: Thanksgiving Treated Gastronomically and Socially, The New York Times, November 24, 1895, p. 27. "Odd Ornaments for Table," The New York Times, October 21, 1900, p. 12.
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  59. ^ "Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival: A Brief History". Miramar Events. 2016. Retrieved October 31, 2016.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit