Pumpkin: beneficial properties and uses in the kitchen

Pumpkin: beneficial properties and uses in the kitchen


Pumpkin is a low- calorie and nutrient -rich vegetable , very  useful for its diuretic and calming action, and suitable for a low-calorie and balanced diet.

The term  “pumpkin” identifies various plants of the  Cucurbitaceae family . The autumn period is that of the harvest. There are 500 varieties, which refer to 15 species, 5 of which are edible: the vegetable pumpkin or courgette ( cucurbita pepo ), the giant pumpkin ( cucurbita  maxima ), the musky pumpkin ( cucurbita  moschata ), the Siam pumpkin ( cucurbita  ficifolia ) and ayote ( cucurbita  argyrosperma ).

The best known varieties and used in the kitchen in the preparation of various dishes are:

  • the Butternut squash (of variable size, bottle -shaped , with a smooth, not very thick orange skin and yellow-orange flesh, compact but tender);
  • Delica (small, round and flattened with a dark green skin, and compact and slightly stringy, dry pulp with an intense yellow color tending towards orange);
  • Hokkaido (rounded almost like a drop, with a smooth and thin bright orange skin with firm, crunchy, intense yellow-orange flesh);
  • Lunga Napoletana (very long and narrow, smooth, thin skin, light and dark green in color with yellow ocher streaks, and orange when ripe. The pulp is firm and compact, with an intense orange colour);
  • Muscat de Provence (flattened round with marked furrows. The skin is smooth and orange-brown in colour, the pulp is intense orange and perfumed);
  • Violina (Bell shape, wrinkled orange peel – light hazelnut , reddish orange compact pulp).

    Pumpkin: beneficial properties

    Pumpkin  is a low calorie food  . Like all orange vegetables, it is rich in  carotenes , substances that the body uses for the production of vitamin A , and with well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties . It is a mine of other minerals and vitamins , such as: calcium , potassium, sodium , magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin E. It also contains a fair amount of amino acids and has a good fiber content . Pumpkin boasts several beneficial properties for the body, such as:

    • diuretic properties
    • anti-inflammatory and  calming properties
    • soothes the skin (it is widely used in the cosmetic field for the formulation of creams and masks)
    • prevents urinary tract disorders such as cystitis  and inflammation of the prostate . This is due to cucurbitin , a substance contained in pumpkin seeds.

    Sprouts and seeds. Not only does pumpkin pulp boast beneficial properties, but also seeds and sprouts. The sprouts are rich in vitamin E,  carotenes  and  pro-vitamin A ; of zinc , selenium , copper , manganese , iron and phosphorus, tocopherols , oils, oleic and linoleic acids, cucurbitin and ascorbic acid, panacea for skin health . The seeds, on the other hand, are high in protein and a valuable source of phosphorus.

    Pumpkin and diabetes: is it possible to eat it?

    Not all desserts have a silver lining: the reputation of the pumpkin could be summarized in this way which, being very sweet and tasty , could appear to be not indicated in the diet of diabetic subjects . In reality, pumpkin is a low-calorie food and even suitable for diabetics due to its low glucid intake .

    Pumpkin: Nutritional Values

    We have seen that the vegetable  is one of the low-calorie foods , providing only 18 Kcal per 100 grams of product: this is due to the large amount of water it contains, estimated at around 94.5%. Carbohydrates amount to 3.5%, while  proteins , very few, make up only 1.1%, while sugars 2.55. Fats, almost absent, represent about 0.1%. Being orange, it is clear that pumpkin is a source of carotenes and  pro-vitamin A ; moreover, it is rich in  minerals , including  phosphorus ,  iron ,  magnesium  and  potassium; the quantity of  vitamin C  and  vitamins of group B is also good .


    How to clean and store pumpkin

    The pumpkin is cut in half, without removing the stem, and dug to remove the seeds and filaments in its heart. The seeds can be set aside, washed and dried in the oven, and eaten as a snack . You can decide whether to remove the peel or whether to keep it even during cooking . The whole and dry pumpkins are kept in a non-humid environment away from direct sunlight and at a temperature not lower than 12°. It can be placed in the refrigerator , in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap, divided into pieces or slices for 4 days . In the freezer , cooked or raw in freezer bags, it can be kept for up to a year.

    Uses in the kitchen of the Pumpkin

    Pumpkin pulp is very versatile in the kitchen and can be used from appetizers to desserts . After removing the skin, the pumpkin can be steamed  or boiled to prepare soups and stews , but it can also be cut into cubes and cooked in a pan like the classic  roast potatoes , then adding  extra virgin olive oil ,  salt ,  pepper  and – who likes it – even  rosemary . An alternative method of preparing squash is baking: after having cut it in half, deprived of the seeds and carefully washed, it can be cut into wedges and cooked directly in the oven. But the uses of the pumpkin in the kitchen are really many: it can be used in the preparation of the traditional risotto with pumpkin, as a filling for homemade pasta , flans, soups, velvety, but also boiled or cooked in a pan, after being crushed, it can form the basis for cakes, biscuits and even ice cream .



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *