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The only superstar vegetable I can talk about in October has to be, and you probably have guessed it…. the pumpkin!! however, before I get into the nitty gritty on how to use this seriously fabulous nutritious health bomb, let’s start at the beginning.
The pumpkin is actually a fruit, native to Central America and Mexico, it is believed (from seeds that have been found in Mexico) they were around at least 7000 BC, there are references to pumpkins dating back many, many centuries.
Grown on every continent except Antarctica, each pumpkin contains over 500 seeds, it is part of the squash/gourd family its cousins include melons and courgettes.
The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word ‘pepon’ meaning large melon, ‘pepon’ was changed by the French to pompon. The English then changed it from ‘pompon’ to ‘pumpion’ it was the American colonists who called it a pumpkin.
The star nutrient is carotenoid, which gives the orange pumpkins their beautiful autumn colour, although the bright orange variety is the one, we know best, there are many other colours including white, green and red.
There are over a hundred different varieties of pumpkins all of which can be eaten. It is often asked if you can eat the carving pumpkins, yes you can, they are perfectly safe to eat, although the flesh is a little coarser and not as sweet as the small cooking pumpkins, which are usually used for pies and soups.
A pumpkin is about 90% water, you can even make pumpkin juice, and if you are a Harry Potter fan then you know that it is extremely popular in the wizarding world particularly with the students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Random fact, did you know ……. Pumpkins have more potassium than bananas
There’s a good chance you have carved a pumpkin and popped a candle into it, making a lantern or Jack-O-Lantern for Halloween, so, what is the story behind the carved pumpkin at Halloween.
Let’s take you back to 1500’s Ireland and a gentleman named Stingy Jack, who agreed to have a drink with the devil. He wasn’t called Stingy for no reason; Jack didn’t like paying for his drinks. The devil turned himself into a coin to pay the bar tender, however, being stingy, Jack pocketed the coin. To keep the devil as a coin Jack also kept a cross in his pocket, which kept the coin from changing back to the devil. One day Jack decided to release the devil by removing the cross, as you can imagine the devil wasn’t happy, but Jack made him promise not to take revenge on him. Jack went on to trick him a few times more, and the devil fell for each one. However, when Jack died, the story goes that devil handed him a burning coal, he wasn’t allowed into hell, and Heaven didn’t accept him either, he was condemned to wander the earth forever. Jack carved a turnip and put the coal inside, hence the name Jack-O-Lantern. It is said that his soul has wandered earth ever since.
People carve turnips and put candles in them to ward off evil spirits on All Hallows night. It was the immigrants to North America who used the native pumpkin, which was more readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips.
The first recipe for pumpkin pie was introduced by the Native Americans to the colonists, where they cut off the top of the pumpkin, removed the seeds, and filled it with milk, spices and honey, baked it on hot ashes – that still sounds delicious today.
Over this month come and join me in finding out more about the wonderful pumpkin powerhouse as we create the wizards favourite juice, pumpkin lattes and much more.
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And if you are after more vegetable cake recipes our book, cakes with secret ingredients from aubergine to zucchini is available to buy here
Until next time