It's autumn and pumpkins can be found everywhere! Mention pumpkin recipes, and most people think of pumpkin pie, but this versatile vegetable can be used in many other delectable desserts and in bread, muffins, soups, stews, side dishes. Pumpkins and most other varieties of winter squash can be used interchangeably in recipes. For example, use pumpkins in recipes calling for squash or even sweet potatoes.
The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for "large melon". The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and later American colonists changed that to the word we use today, "pumpkin". The origin of pumpkins is not definitively known, although they are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 BC, were found in Mexico.
Pumpkins, like winter squash, are harvested when the fruit is mature. This may range from 90 to 120 days after planting. The rind does not become entirely hardened even at full maturity, which distinguishes them from winter squashes.
Pumpkins have a rich flavour, they're highly nutritious, and they have a long storage capability. They are a wonderful source of beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Just one half cup of cooked pumpkin, supplies the daily requirement of Vitamin A with only 38 calories! Pumpkins are also a tasty source of carbohydrates and potassium.
It is also very high in fiber so boiling and steaming it may cause it to take on a lot of moisture and become very wet and soggy. The best way to cook is always oven roasted. This caramelizes the natural sugars which intensifies the flavour. The caramelizing or browning of the edges sweetens the flavour. The higher heat methods give the better flavour. Thin slices and chargrilled are also delicious.