When you think of “pumpkins”, you probably think of Halloween, pie, Fall, and Thanksgiving. Afterall, these are words that are most often associated with this fruit. Pumpkins are members of the Cucurbita pepo family which includes gourds, squash and cucumbers. Read this informative article and learn some more little known facts about pumpkins that will probably leave you saying, “I didn’t know that!”
The History of Pumpkins
Pumpkins have been in existence for centuries. In fact, the name itself came from the Greek word “pepon” which means “large melon.” The French peoples changed “pepon” into “pompon.” The medieval English then turned “pompon” into “pumpion.” A little known fact about pumpkins is, that the first mention of any dessert made with them was after the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. The colonists would remove the top of pumpkins, scoop out the seeds and membrane, then fill the shells with milk, honey and assorted spices. The top was replaced and the pumpkin was baked until it was tender, by placing it in hot ashes. This is where the idea of having Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving meals came from. By the late 1600’s, there were recipes for “Pumpion Pyes” published in cookbooks.
According to Libby.com, today, there are more than 50 million pumpkin pies made and eaten annually.
The Native Americans also used pumpkins. They cut them into thin, long strips, flattened them, and dried them out. Then, they wove the strips together to make rugs. They also chunked pumpkins up, roasted the pieces over fires, and ate the tasty fruit. The Native Americans had their own name for pumpkins- “isqoutm squash.”
Where Do Pumpkins Grow?
Actually, where DON’T they grow? Pumpkins grow on every continent except Antarctica.
According to the folks at the Libby Corporation, a major brand of canned pumpkin, Morton, Illinois is the “Pumpkin Capital of the World” because that’s where their plant is located. A little known fact about pumpkins is that ninety-percent of the pumpkin crops come from the state of Illinois.
The largest pumpkin, to date, was grown by Larry Checkon for the Pennsylvania Giant Pumpkin Growers Weighoff. His whopper weighed 1,469 pounds. A little known fact about pumpkins is, these fruits contain ninety percent water. That’s a lot of water!
According to The Guinness Book of World Records, the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers from Ohio hold the record, as of 2006, for baking the largest pumpkin pie. Their calorie-laden dessert tipped the scales at 2,020 pounds. Interestingly enough, it was made using Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe.
Making pies is probably the most common food use for pumpkins nowadays. However, they can be baked, roasted and boiled. Their seeds can also be roasted and eaten. Pumpkins can be turned into custards, ice cream, soups, stews and more.
Health Benefits of Pumpkins
Are you searching for a fruit that’s chock full of Vitamin A and B, iron, protein, potassium, magnesium and beneficial zinc? Then look to the pumpkin! Pumpkins are also low in calories and fat, yet they’re high in fiber. A little known fact about pumpkins is that eating their seeds has been shown to reduce the risk of Prostate Cancer in men.
Choosing the Best Pumpkins
Pumpkins grow in all different shapes and sizes… and colors too! Even though we’re most accustomed to seeing orange pumpkins, they grow in white, blue, red, tan and yellow colors too.
When you visit the grocery to buy some pumpkins, check each one you’re considering over carefully. Look for soft spots and bruises and avoid buying these. The best pumpkin will feel solid and heavy.
A little known fact about pumpkins is, you should pick the fruits that have an inch or two of stem. These will last longer, and rot slower, than the ones that have no stems.