Pumpkin within a pumpkin


Pumpkin Facts

  • Total U.S. pumpkin production in 2008 in major pumpkin producing states was valued at $141 million.
  • Total production of pumpkins by major pumpkin-producing states in 2008: 1.1 billion pounds
  • 496 million pounds of pumpkins were produced in Illinois in 2008.
  • Thetop pumpkin production states are Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California.
  • The top ten pumpkin producing counties in Illinois are Tazewell, Kankakee, Mason, Logan, Will, Marshall, Kane, Pike, Carroll and Woodford.
  • Pumpkins are grown primarily for processing with a small percentage grown for ornamental sales through you-pick farms, farmers’ market and retail sales.
  • Around 90 to 95% of the processed pumpkins in the United States are grown in Illinois.
  • Pumpkin seeds can be roasted as a snack.
  • Pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A.
  • Pumpkins are used for feed for animals.
  • Pumpkin flowers are edible.
  • Pumpkins are used to make soups, pies and breads.
  • The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.
  • Pumpkins are members of the vine crops family called cucurbits.
  • Pumpkins originated in Central America.
  • In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
  • Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.
  • Pumpkins range in size from less than a pound to over 1,000 pounds.
  • The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds.
  • The name pumpkin originated from “pepon” – the Greek word for “large melon.”
  • The Connecticut field variety is the traditional American pumpkin.
  • Pumpkins are 90 percent water.
  • Pumpkins are fruit.
  • Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.
  • In colonial times, Native Americans roasted long strips of pumpkin in an open fire.
  • Colonists sliced off pumpkin tops; removed seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin of pumpkin pie.
  • Native Americans flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats.
  • Native Americans called pumpkins “isqoutm squash.”
  • Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine.

Oct 23, 2019Most US pumpkins are produced in 10 states

With Halloween approaching, many consumers spent the weekend searching for the nearest pumpkin patch. Pumpkin production is widely dispersed throughout the United States.

All U.S. States produce some pumpkins, but according to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, about 62 percent of pumpkin acres were grown in only ten States. Illinois is consistently the nation’s largest producer of pumpkins, the majority of which are used for pies and other processed foods.

Pumpkin production from the other states surveyed annually by USDA is primarily destined for decorative (or carving) use. While 2019 production has not yet been surveyed, early feedback indicates an average year for Illinois and California with a healthy crop.

Pumpkin growers in a few states have reported some challenges: Ohio faced a wet spring which made planting a challenge while Pennsylvania growers report extended periods of hot weather during the summer, which reduced the pollination of pumpkin flowers.

Retail prices for pumpkins typically fluctuate from week to week leading up to Halloween. At the end of the first week of October, average retail price for jack-o-lantern style pumpkins was $3.42 per pumpkin compared to $3.32 for the same week in 2018.

This chart is based on data appearing in the ERS Pumpkins: Background & Statistics topic page updated in September 2019.

Jack-o’-lantern facts for kids

For other uses, see Jack-o’-lantern (disambiguation). A jack-o’-lantern lit by a candle

A Jack-o’-lantern is a carved pumpkin, turnip, beet, or potato. In the 19th and 20th centuries people in Scotland and Ireland carved Halloween lanterns from large yellow turnips. This custom has become less prevalent in recent years as supermarkets have begun selling the larger and easier-to-carve American pumpkins.

In Irish lore, the Jack-o’-lantern is from the story of Stingy Jack. Jack was a clever man who cheated the devil several times. Once when Jack was leaving hell, the devil threw him a glowing coal to light his way. Jack put the coal in a hollowed-out turnip to make the first “Jack-o’-lantern”. Lore says Jack can still be seen wandering the world with his turnip lantern, especially around All Saints Day, November 1.

In the United States, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween. In 1900, an article on Thanksgiving entertaining recommended a lit Jack-o’-lantern as part of the festivities.

Jack-o’-lantern made from a turnip

To make a Jack-o’-lantern, the top of the pumpkin surrounding the stump of the vine is cut off. This top will be used as a “lid” when the Jack-o’-lantern is completed. The seeds and pulp inside the pumpkin are scooped out using a spoon or one’s hands. The seeds may be roasted in a hot oven, and then salted to make a snack.

Once the inside of the pumpkin is clean, a face is carved into one side of the pumpkin. The eyes and nose are usually triangles. The mouth is usually filled with jagged teeth. A candle, devotional candle in a candle-holder, or a flashlight is put inside the Jack-o’-lantern and lit. The “lid” is replaced. The lid may be placed slightly askew to keep the candle alit.

In the United States, a completely carved and lit Jack-o’-lantern is put on the porch, the porch steps, or in a window to welcome trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Once the pumpkin is carved, it is good for nothing else and lasts only a day or two before it starts to rot. Pumpkins used to make Jack-o’-lanterns are inedible.

Images for kids

  • A traditional jack-o’-lantern, made from a pumpkin, lit from within by a candle

  • A jack-o’-lantern in the shape of the Wikipedia logo.

  • An assortment of carved pumpkins

  • A traditional Irish Jack-o’-Lantern in the Museum of Country Life, Ireland

  • Modern carving of a Cornish Jack-o’-Lantern made from a turnip

  • A commercial “R.I.P.” pattern

  • Halloween jack-o’-lantern

  • Pumpkin projected onto the wall

  • A jack-o’-lantern

  • A sugar cookie decorated with frosting in the shape of a jack-o’-lantern

  • A Halloween cake topped with a jack-o’-lantern

  • Pumpkin craft for Halloween, using a commercial carving pattern

Pumpkins with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating jack-o’-lanterns originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as early canvasses. In fact, the name, jack-o’-lantern, comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.

READ MORE: How Trick-or-Treating Became a Halloween Tradition

The Legend of “Stingy Jack”

People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.

Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack-o’-lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.

READ MORE: What Inspired ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’?

Have you checked out our first Fun Facts post yet? There will be a total of three fun facts related to Halloween and then I will do more for Thanksgiving. I hope you will check them all out. I know I am having fun doing them and learning about so many different things. Today we are talking about jack-o’-lanterns. Have you carved yours yet?

Fun Facts

  1. The name of jack-o’-lanterns comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack.
  2. Traditional Irish Turnip Jack-O’-Lantern Rannpháirtí anaithnid at English Wikipedia , via Wikimedia Commons

  3. In Ireland large turnips and potatoes were carved as the jack-o’-lanterns with scary faces and put them near doors or windows to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England beets were used. Immigrants brought the tradition to America and began using the pumpkins that grew in their new home. The various vegetable lanterns were stuffed with coal, wood or candles as lanterns to celebrate the fall.
  4. The term jack-o’-lantern first was used for people. As early as 1663 the term meant a man with a lantern or a night watchman. A decade later it began to also be used to refer to mysterious lights seen at night over bogs, swamps, and marshes.
  5. The kids began to carve crude faces into the pumpkins and make the lanterns look like disembodied heads. By the mid-1800s Stingy Jack’s nickname was applied to the prank lanterns and the jack-o’-lantern got its name.
  6. Toward the end of the 19th century jack-o’-lanterns went from a prank to a standard seasonal decoration. At a Halloween party hosted by the mayor of Atlanta in 1892 the wife had several pumpkins lit from within and carved with faces ending the days of jack-o’-lantern’s day of wandering.
  7. In America a traditional jack-o’-lantern refers to a variety of pumpkin grown for carving. They are fairly large in size and have strong walls and a large hollow cavity.
  8. In the late 1800s there was a movement to turn Halloween into a celebration emphasizing community and neighborhood activities and parties. This is the Halloween we know today.
  9. According to Steve Reiners, a horticulturist at Cornell University, a jack-o’-lantern can last five to ten days. The best temperature for pumpkins is 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Tips from Master Carvers include giving the pumpkin a bath before carving it. Etch before carving and carve before scooping it. Scoop it from the back and not from the top. Leave the stem attached. To keep it longer seal it with Vasoline. If it is looking a bit droopy or sad, toss it in an ice water bath for an hour.
  11. The largest jack-o’-lantern ever carved was from a pumpkin weighing 1,810.5 lb. It was carved by Scott Cully in the Bronx, NY on October 30, 2010. The pumpkin holds the record for the heaviest pumpkin ever as well. The most lit jack-o’-lanterns on display is 30,581 and was achieved in Keene, NH by Let It Shine, Inc. Keene has broken the record 8 times since its original attempt. The fastest time to carve a pumpkin on record is 16.47 seconds achieved by Stephen Clarke on PIX11 Morning News in New York, NY on October 31, 2013.

Jack-O’-Lantern Crafts


Pumpkin spice lattes may have dominated every autumnal season in recent memory, but actual pumpkin has been on earth for a whopping 5,000 years. There’s so much more to the fruit (yep, it’s a fruit!) than Starbucks, including its honorable contributions to the pie universe, its superfood status, and of course, its origin story. Here’s everything you need to know about fall’s favorite (and most crafty!) food.

1. The word “pumpkin” showed up for the first time in the fairy tale Cinderella.

A French explorer in 1584 first called them “gros melons,” which was translated into English as “pompions,” according to History. It wasn’t until the 17th century that they were first referred to as pumpkins.

2. The original jack-o’-lanterns were made with turnips and potatoes by the Irish.

In England, they used large beets and lit them with embers to ward off evil spirits. Irish immigrants brought their customs to America, but found that pumpkins were much easier to carve.

3. Pumpkins are grown on every continent except Antarctica.

Which makes quite a bit of sense considering, oh you know, Antartica is a 24/7 icy tundra.

4. Over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced each year in the United States.

The top pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.

Marcia StraubGetty Images

5. Morton, Illinois, calls itself the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”

According to the University of Illinois, 95% of the pumpkins grown in the U.S. are harvested in Illinois soil. Morton is allegedly responsible for 80% of the world’s canned pumpkin production.

6. 80% of the U.S.’s pumpkin crop is available during October.

Out of the total 1.5 billion pounds, over 800 million pumpkins are ripe for the picking in a single month of the year.

7. The world’s heaviest pumpkin weighed over 2,600 pounds.

It was grown in Germany and presented in October 2016.

8. The largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 3,699 pounds.

Pumpkin pie originated in the colonies, just not as we know it today. Colonists would cut the tops of pumpkins off, remove the seeds, fill the pumpkins with milk, spices, and honey, then bake them in hot ashes.

AFPGetty Images

9. Pumpkin-flavored sales totaled over $414 million in 2017.

But people are starting to opt for fresh pumpkin instead, according to Nielsen Retail Measurement Services. Some pumpkin-flavored products have seen consistent growth over recent years, including cereal, coffee, and even dog food.

Shop the Most Popular Pumpkin Products

Pumpkin Spice Keurig K-Cups Green Mountain amazon.com $34.25 Pumpkin Spice Cereal Special K walmart.com $6.92 Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix Pillsbury amazon.com $8.50 Pumpkin Dog Treats Grandma Lucy’s amazon.com $9.85

10. Each pumpkin has about 500 seeds.

They take between 90 and 120 days to grow, which is why it’s recommended to plant them between May and July. High in iron, they can be roasted to eat. The flowers that grow on pumpkin vines are also edible.

11. Delaware used to host an annual “Punkin Chunkin” championship.

Teams competed in a pumpkin launching competition, where pumpkins were shot almost 5,000 feet from an air cannon. The event was canceled in 2017 after there was a tragic accident the year before.

12. There are more than 45 different varieties of pumpkin.

They range in color like red, yellow, and green, and have names like Hooligan, Cotton Candy, and Orange Smoothie.

Pumpkin Seeds Variety Pack Pure Pollination amazon.com $6.59

13. Pumpkins are technically fruit.

More specifically, they are a winter squash in the family Cucurbitacae, which includes cucumbers and melons. But because they’re savory, many people just call them vegetables anyway.

14. Every single part of a pumpkin is edible.

Yep, you can eat the skin, leaves, flowers, pulp, seeds, and even the stem!

15. Pumpkins are 90% water, which makes them a low-calorie food.

One cup of canned pumpkin has less than 100 calories and only half a gram of fat. In comparison, the same serving size of sweet potato has triple the calories. They also have more fiber than kale, more potassium than bananas, and are full of heart-healthy magnesium and iron.

100% Pure Pumpkin Can Libby’s amazon.com $3.16

16. Surprisingly, pumpkin pie isn’t America’s favorite.

According to a survey by the American Pie Council, it’s apple that takes the cake (um, pie?) — 19% of Americans say it’s their pie of choice. Pumpkin is in second place with a respectable 13%.

12 fun facts you never knew about pumpkins

Nothing says autumn more than a beautiful, orange pumpkin, but this most beloved symbol of fall is hiding some fun little secrets. Think you know everything there is to know about these great big gourds? Here are 12 fun facts about pumpkins:

1. Pumpkins are fruits, not vegetables

Fruits are considered to be the part of the plant that has seeds on the inside. By this definition, a pumpkin is definitely a fruit. They’re a member of the gourd family, which includes other fruits like watermelon and winter squash.

2. Pumpkin pie wasn’t served at the pilgrims’ Thanksgiving

Despite our modern-day obsession with pumpkin pie this time of year, it was nowhere to be found at the original Thanksgiving feast of 1621. Pilgrims wouldn’t have had butter or flour for making pie crust, let alone an oven for baking. Some historians speculate that the Pilgrims may have hollowed out pumpkins to fill with milk, spices, and honey for a custard-like dessert, but even this has never been proved.

3. Pilgrims did like pumpkin beer

We tend to think of pumpkin beer as a new fad, but the Pilgrims were onto it hundreds of years ago. The main reason pumpkin was adopted as a beer ingredient during the Colonial period was simply just availability — pumpkins were everywhere. Malt wasn’t easily accessible and pumpkins served as an easily fermentable sugar.

4. The first jack-o’-lanterns

Early jack-o’-lanterns were made by carving turnips or potatoes — not pumpkins. The Irish and Scottish used them as part of their pagan Celtic celebrations, while the English did the same thing, just with beets instead. In fact, the tradition of the jack-o’-lantern stems from the Irish legend of a man named Stingy Jack who was known as somewhat of an unpleasant trickster. Immigrants brought their carving traditions to America, but found that pumpkins were a much easier alternative.

5. Pumpkins originated in North America

The oldest seeds have been found in Mexico and date back to between 7,000-5,500 B.C. Pumpkins and other forms of squash were an important food staple for Native Americans. They referred to pumpkins (squash) along with two other important crops, beans and maize (corn), as the “Three Sisters,” and they planted them together since they helped each other grow. The corn serves as a trellis upon which the beans can grow high and reach sunlight; the beans put nitrogen in the soil, which helps the corn grow tall; and the pumpkins shaded the ground, thereby crowding out weeds and protecting the shallow roots of the corn.

6. Pumpkins grow (almost) everywhere

Pumpkins are grown on every continent except Antarctica. They even grow in Alaska.

7. More than 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced in the U.S.

And 80 percent of this crop are picked within one single month of the year — October. The top-producing pumpkin states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California. In fact, Morton, Ill., is the self-proclaimed “pumpkin capital” of the world because it’s home to the Libby’s corporation.

8. Pumpkin seeds as snacks

The average-size pumpkin contains about 1 cup of seeds.

To roast seeds: Separate seeds from the stringy pulp and run them under cold water (a colander works well here). Then carefully blot dry. Preheat oven to 250ºF. Make a seasoning mix with butter or oil and your favorite dry seasonings. Try Cajun, taco, simple salt and pepper or whatever you’re feeling. Bake for about 45 minutes, then increase the temperature to 325ºF and bake for another 20 minutes or longer — until seeds are crispy. Stir a few times during baking.

9. Your jack-o’-lantern won’t make a good pie

Those oversized pumpkins you pick up at the roadside stand are bred for size, not flavor. Farmers know that most people buy pumpkins that they can carve, so they don’t worry about their tastiness. If you plan on using fresh pumpkin to cook, pick up a Cinderella, Pink Banana Squash or Sugar Pie pumpkin variety. A 5-pound pumpkin should yield two pies.

10. World’s largest pumpkin pie

The largest pumpkin pie ever made was 20 feet in diameter and weighed 3,699 pounds. It was made in September 2010 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers (USA) at the New Bremen Pumpkinfest in New Bremen, Ohio.

11. Pumpkin contest winner

Each year, growers compete for the title of largest pumpkin. The U.S. record for largest pumpkin ever grown was awarded to Steve Geddes of Boscawen, N.H. His pumpkin weighed 2,528 pounds, earning Geddes $6,000 in prize money at the Deerfield Fair in 2018. The world record was set in 2016 by Mathias Willemijns of Belgium, whose pumpkin tipped the scale at a whopping 2,624 pounds.

12. National Pumpkin Day is celebrated every Oct. 26

National Pumpkin Day is an unofficial holiday that is celebrated annually on Oct. 26. The holiday serves as a day to give thanks for the squash that have been such an integral part of North American heritage. It’s also a convenient day to carve a pumpkin, since most pumpkins will hold up a few days before Halloween on Oct. 31. Want your pumpkin to last longer? Read our favorite tips before you make any moves.

  • Article by Meghan Rodgers,
    Everybody Craves, http://www.everybodycraves.com

    Copyright © 535media, LLC

    Categories: Lifestyles

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    Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Vegetable


    A Pumpkin is a large, orange, spherical squash. In the USA, pumpkins are traditionally associated with Halloween and Thanksgiving and made into pumpkin pie. In other parts of the world, such as Australia, they are eaten year-round, usually as a savoury dish. It is similar in taste to sweet potato.

    There are many different varieties of pumpkin, and they have slightly different flavours, but the major differences are in the skin colour and the thickness of their rind. Some varieties have a very thin rind which is easy to cut and actually becomes edible when you cook the pumpkin, but as a whole the rind is discarded. Most varieties of pumpkin are at least technically edible.

    As a rule of thumb, the larger the pumpkin, the tougher the skin and the woodier and more tasteless the flesh. The large orange pumpkins sold for carving in the United States at Halloween are still edible, but they are not as good as pumpkins specifically grown for eating. This is less important if you are making pie, but is something to keep in mind when cooking pumpkins to eat directly.

    Preparing a Halloween Pumpkin for Eating

    When preparing pumpkin to eat, ensure that you’ve thoroughly washed the outside with warm water and soap or detergent. This is especially important for pumpkins bought in a ‘pumpkin patch’, since they may not have been washed before. Although typical large carving pumpkins can taste awful, they are edible. It is always best to use “cooking pumpkins” when selecting a pumpkin which you intend to eat. If you are carving it for Halloween before eating, wash it before you cut into it and rinse it again after displaying.

    This will cut down the amount of bacteria and fertilizer on the peel. Also make sure to cut off any pieces with wax or soot from candles on it. If your pumpkin has dirt on it, it may be worth it to rinse it off outside with a garden hose before washing it in your sink, to avoid making your sink dirty.

    If you have a carved pumpkin which you are intending to eat, it would be best to avoid leaving it out for more than 2 days. If possible, carve it on Halloween and bring it in that night. Leave it in a cool, dark place until you cook it. At worst, you would end up with a moldy, rotten pumpkin. If you are lucky, then your pumpkin may just dry out a bit, and you end up with some pieces which are chewy. Either way, best to take down your pumpkin early, or you will have fruit flies!

    Cooking Pumpkin

    An interesting fact is that most canned ‘pumpkin’ is actually hubbard squash. Hubbard squash has the characteristic rich orange flesh and bold flavor that users of canned pumpkin will be familiar with. If you are trying to make home made pumpkin pie, you may have found that the taste of ‘sweet pumpkins’ is not as rich as what is normally found in canned pumpkin. For better results try using hubbard squash.

    Pumpkin by itself is excellent. To cook pumpkin, slice into chunks no larger than 3″x3″, and all chunks must be about the same size. Leave the peel on. Steam in the microwave or on the stove until all pieces are soft and mushy. Then, you can serve directly at the dinner table with butter, leaving it to diners to remove the peel. Alternatively, you could let it cool, peel in the kitchen, mash it up with butter to taste, then heat and serve.

    If you have a small pumpkin, you can roast it whole – just slice the top off first so that the steam can escape, and roast for about an hour. When it is done you can scoop out the seeds and discard, and if you remove some or most of the flesh you can use it as an unusual serving bowl to hold other food.

    For a ‘poor man’s pumpkin pie’, after peeling and mashing, instead of butter, mix with sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon to taste. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature.

    For diners on controlled diets, the sugar and butter can be omitted, and still have a tasty side dish or dessert. Without the butter, pumpkin is a very low-fat food, and is also very high in certain vitamins.

    Pumpkin Recipes

    Pumpkin recipes can be found in the pumpkin recipe category.

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    Theodor de Bry’s engraving shows a pumpkin patch, marked with an “I,” at the center of a sixteenth-century Indian village.

    Granger Collection

    A circa 1590 watercolor of pumpkins by Jacques de Morgues

    University of Cambridge

    An eighteenth-century pumpkin by Joseph Plenck.

    The motley of older varieties of edible pumpkins has shrunk to the monochrome, indigestible Halloween porch sitter of today.

    Smoky Hill Bison Company

    “Food in name only,” historian James McWilliams calls the bloated Halloween decorations we know as pumpkins.

    Colonial Williamsburg

    Fattening in the Virginia Tidewater summer, pumpkins are yet grown in the leafy shade of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area.

    A stuffed pumpkin appears as first course on the dining table in the family-focused Powell House on Waller Street.

    Some Pumpkins!

    Halloween and Pumpkins in Colonial America

    by Mary Miley Theobald

    Colonial Americans didn’t celebrate Halloween. They didn’t have jack-o’-lanterns either, or trick or treat, or costumes, or candy as we know it. What they had were pumpkins— large and small, round and oval, warty and smooth, squat and misshapen, orange, yellow, and green, far more varieties of the fruit than we see today, all of which they consumed in far greater quantities than we do today.

    As America once again decorates its porches with grimacing pumpkins and braces for the annual onslaught of princesses and caped crusaders, one can’t help wondering what our forebears would have thought of these Halloween rituals. It seems likely that Indians and colonists alike would have been puzzled by the candlelit faces, aghast at the waste of good food, and appalled when they saw the smashed remains littering the streets.

    In their day, the pumpkin, or pompion as it was called, got more respect. An important food source, pumpkins were crucial to their survival through the hungry winter months.

    Though Halloween was unknown in early America, the established Church of England did take note of All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, on November 1. All Hallows’ Evening, corrupted to Halloween, fell on the preceding night, October 31, but it was not an occasion for costumed children to rap colonial door knockers, and no jack-o’-lanterns flickered from colonial windows.

    The origins of Halloween date back two millennia to the Celtic harvest festival Samhain, celebrated in November at the beginning of the Celtic New Year, when the souls of the dead were said to return to earth. Beliefs and celebrations varied from place to place, but often involved bonfires, burning sacrifices, and costumes, as people marked another autumn’s reaping and honored the dead. Pumpkins were unknown in Europe at this early date, but traditions included hollowing out gourds to make lanterns to light the way at night or, some said, to ward off evil spirits that roamed the countryside on All Hallows’ Eve. Irish immigrants brought Celtic traditions to America in the nineteenth century, where they found the pumpkins larger than gourds and better for carving. So, in the New World, their jack-o’-lanterns were made from pumpkins instead.

    One of America’s oldest native crops, pumpkins were an important staple long before Europeans crossed the Atlantic Ocean and discovered them. Cultivated independently by the indigenous peoples of North and South America, pumpkins—or more accurately, pumpkin seeds—have been found at archaeological sites in the American southwest dating back six thousand years, as well as at sites throughout Mexico, Central and South America, and the eastern United States.

    Evidently, seeds were the only part consumed by these ancient cultures because the flesh of most wild pumpkins was too bitter to eat. Once cultivation altered the pumpkin enough to make it palatable, Native Americans devoured every part of the plant—seeds, flesh, flowers, and leaves. Pumpkins and squashes of all sorts could be baked or roasted whole in the fire, cut up and boiled, or added to soup.

    Removing the seeds, cutting the pumpkin into strips, and drying them—making a sort of jerky—effectively preserved them. Indians also dried the outer shells of pumpkins and squashes and used them as water vessels, bowls, and storage containers.

    Almost every early European explorer commented on the profusion of pumpkins in the New World. Columbus mentioned them on his first voyage, Jacques Cartier records their growing in Canada in the 1530s, Cabeza de Vaca saw them in Florida the 1540s, as did Hernando de Soto in the 1550s. In the 1580s, Thomas Hariot, scientific adviser to the Roanoke expedition, realized early on that the multitudes of colors and shapes were actually quite similar in taste. He wrote, “Severall formes are of one taste and very good, and do also spring from one seed.” Captain John Smith described in 1612 how the Powhatans grew pumpkins near Jamestown. Pumpkins and related squashes were an indispensable part of the diet for Native Americans of all regions.

    A few Europeans also described how the Indian women prepared their pumpkins. Peter Kalm, a Swedish botanist who explored the wilds of New York and Canada, wrote in 1749:

    The Indians, in order to preserve the pumpkins for a very long time, cut them in long slices which they fasten or twist together and dry either in the sun or by the fire in a room. When they are thus dried, they will keep for years, and when boiled they taste very well. The Indians prepare them thus at home and on their journeys.

    Sounds simple enough, but when George Washington directed his farm manager to do this with Mount Vernon’s pumpkins, the man reported failure. “I tried the mode you directed of slicing and drying them,” he wrote, “but it did not appear to lengthen their preservation.” The Delaware Indians in Pennsylvania were “very particular in their choice of pumpkins and squashes and in their manner of cooking them,” wrote John Heckewelder, a Moravian who ministered to the tribe in the 1760s and 1770s.

    The women say that the less water is put to them, the better dish they make, and that it would be still better if they were stewed without any water, merely in the steam of the sap which they contain. They cover up the pots in which they cook them with large leaves of the pumpkin vine.

    Kalm wrote about the Indians’ pumpkin porridge: “Some mix flour with the pumpkins when making porridge. . . . They often make pudding or even pie or a kind of tart out of them.”

    Europeans noted the ingenious way Native Americans cultivated their pumpkins and squash, often planting them with corn and beans. Indians called these the three sisters and took advantage of their symbiotic relationship to improve yield. The corn supports the bean vines, the big pumpkin leaves shade the shallow roots of the corn, holding moisture and discouraging weeds, and the bean roots provide nitrogen to the soil. Not all Indians followed this practice, however. Thomas Hariot noted in his Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia that the Indian town of Secota had a separate garden “wherin they use to sowe pompions” and another beside it for corn.

    Pumpkins are part of a large family of closely related squashes that grow in profusion throughout the Western Hemisphere. The English word “pumpkin” is a modern version of “pompion,” the term broadly applied to many sorts of similar-looking pumpkins and squash. The word’s origins are Greek: pepon means large melon. Though we think of pumpkins as being orange, they also come in green, yellow, red, white, blue, and tan.

    The arrival of Columbus in the 1490s kicked off what is now called the Columbian Exchange of food, animals, and disease. Over the years, Europeans introduced cows, horses, pigs, sheep, and many foods to the New World; they took pumpkins, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, squash, pineapples, peanuts, cacao beans, and other items back to Europe and Africa, where they were incorporated into existing foodways.

    Kalm was referring to Pennsylvania pumpkins when he wrote, “The Europeans settled in America got the seeds of this plant from the Indians, and at present their gardens are full of it,” but his words would have applied equally to settlers of other colonies. In Massachusetts, the Pilgrims found pumpkin a mainstay. A poem dating from the 1630s tells the important role pumpkin played in their diet:

    Stead of pottage and puddings and custards and pies
    Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
    We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
    If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.

    Yet Europeans in Europe did not embrace the pumpkin with the same enthusiasm as their brethren in the American colonies. Some upper-class English gardeners grew them as a curiosity, but pumpkins quickly acquired the reputation of being poor men’s fare. The Gardeners Dictionary of 1763 says that pumpkins are “frequently cultivated by the country people in England, who plant them upon their dunghills.” When Martha Bradley wrote The British Housewife in 1770, she termed the pumpkin “a very ordinary Fruit, and is principally the Food of the Poor.” Home in Holland after a visit to New Netherlands before it was renamed New York, a Dutchman reported that the pumpkin was generally despised in Holland “as a mean and unsubstantial article of food, it is there” in New York “of so good a quality that our countrymen hold it in high estimation.”

    The most common way to prepare pumpkins was to stew them. A visitor to New England in 1674 wrote:

    The Housewives manner is to slice them when ripe, and cut them into dice, and so fill a pot with them of two or three Gallons, and stew them upon a gentle fire a whole day, and as they sink, they fill again with fresh Pompions, not putting any liquor to them; and when it is stew’d enough, it will look like bak’d Apples; this they Dish, putting Butter to it, and a little Vinegar, (with some Spice, as Ginger, &c.) which makes it tart like an Apple.

    Another way to prepare pumpkins was to add them to soup or stew. A French cookbook of the mid-seventeenth century describes how to make four types of pumpkin soup using cream, butter, and nutmeg. Other colonial women cut them in half, removed the seeds, put them back together before roasting, and then served them with butter.

    Colonial Englishwomen, following the English tradition of making pies out of just about anything, quickly figured out how to make a pumpkin pie, though they didn’t call it that. The first American cookbook, published in 1796 by Amelia Simmons, offers two recipes for pumpkin pudding, one with a “paste,” or crust, and one without. The pumpkin was to be stewed first, then cooked with cream, eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg, and ginger, and baked threequarters of an hour—a recipe remarkably like the one on the label of the Libby pumpkin can.

    Colonial Americans also drank their pumpkin. An enterprising person can make an alcoholic beverage out of almost anything, and the Pilgrims seem to have been first to make pumpkin beer or ale. A later stanza of the poem quoted above provides evidence that they were versatile with their ingredients:

    If Barley be wanting to make into Malt, We must be contented and think it no Fault, For we can make liquor to sweeten our Lips Of Pumpkins and Parsnips and Walnut-Tree Chips.

    The Pilgrim recipe was said to involve a mixture of persimmons, hops, maple syrup, and, of course, pumpkin. Further south in Virginia, planter Landon Carter mentions pumpkins in his diary in 1765. He, too, concocted some sort of alcoholic beverage from fermented pumpkins. He christened it pumperkin.

    Perhaps he used a method similar to an anonymous recipe of 1771:

    Let the Pompion be beaten in a Trough and pressed as Apples. The expressed juice is to be boiled in a copper a considerable time and carefully skimmed that there may be no remains of the fibrous part of the pulp. After that intention is answered let the liquid be hopped culled fermented & casked as malt beer.

    Pumpkins fed livestock as well as people. Plantation owners like Washington and Thomas Jefferson raised fields of them for winter fodder for their animals. A friend of Jefferson wrote in 1814 about a new, high-yield variety that had been given to Jefferson at Monticello:

    The pumkin being a plant of which he endeavors every year to raise so many as to maintain all the stock on his farms from the time they come till frost. . . . besides feeding his workhorses, cattle and sheep on them entirely, they furnish the principal fattening for the pork, slaughtered. A more productive kind will therefore be of value.

    Farmers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries grew pumpkins that were sweet and flavorful, but the fruit’s importance diminished as time passed. Nineteenth-century cookbooks gave short shrift to the pumpkin, some omitting it altogether. Pumpkins became a minor crop until after World War II, when the combination of a baby boom and the end of sugar rationing brought a surge in trickor- treating. The demand for jack-o’-lanterns soared.

    It wasn’t until the early 1970s that pumpkins took a turn for the inedible as farmers developed hybrids that were good for carving, not eating. Size, shape, durability, and a thick stem were the desired features. Taste mattered not at all, since none of these pumpkins would be consumed. The Howden Pumpkin strain, developed by farmer Jack Howden, is considered the original commercial jack-o’-lantern pumpkin. It and its offshoots have taken over the market.

    “The most popular pumpkins today are grown to be porch décor rather than pie filling,” says history professor James E. McWilliams of Texas State University and the author of Revolution in Eating. “They dominate the industry because of their durability, uniform size (about 15 pounds), orange color, wart-less texture, and oval shape.” Mass production of these poor-tasting pumpkins is a $5 billion a year industry today. McWilliams calls them “a culinary trick without the treat” and accuses them of being “food in name only.”

    Edible pumpkins have not been entirely forgotten. Heirloom pumpkin seeds are available for those who want to grow the old-fashioned kind, and farmer’s markets and upscale grocery stores sometimes carry older, tasty varieties.

    As pumpkins turned into holiday decorations instead of food, Americans largely forgot how to eat them. Save for the occasional pumpkin pie, the fruit wasn’t seen much on dining tables. But recent years have seen a modest pumpkin revival. The Cheesecake Factory restaurant chain sells two sorts of pumpkin cheesecake during the fall season, Starbucks offers pumpkin muffins and pumpkin scones to hungry coffee drinkers, and magazines feature recipes for pumpkin soups, pumpkin breads, and pumpkin cake.

    And that old reliable performer, the pumpkin pie? It’s still bringing down the house after a four hundred-year run.

    Suggestions for further reading:

    • Selected recipes from Colonial Williamsburg
    • Purchase Colonial Williamsburg cookbooks online at WilliamsburgMarketplace.com
    • Learn about Colonial Williamsburg’s Foodways

    What Are The Benefits Of Eating Pumpkin Seeds? Swathi Handoo Hyderabd040-395603080 December 19, 2019

    Don’t throw away the seeds after the Thanksgiving meals. Save them

    Pumpkin seeds, or pepito, are mini reservoirs of nutrition. They contain unsaturated fatty acids, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, essential amino acids, and phenolic compounds. Snacking on these seeds may help manage diabetes, heart disorders, muscle/bone pain, hair fall, and acne.

    Explore the therapeutic and tasty side of these seeds in the following sections. Scroll down!

    Table Of Contents

    Why Should You Eat Pumpkin Seeds?

    Hence, pumpkin seeds fall into the category of nutritious oil seeds, along with sunflower, soybean, safflower, and watermelon seeds (1).

    Pumpkin seeds are growing popular as a rich source of nutrition. They are being sold as a snack mixed with various nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.

    The high levels of oleic and linoleic fatty acids in pumpkin seeds may reduce the risk of heart diseases. They possess fair amounts of minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and copper (1), (2).

    Moreover, these seeds contain significant amounts of antioxidants in the form of phytochemicals (1), (2).

    Studies prove that these elements may combat gastric, breast, lung, and colorectal cancers (1).

    Go through the next section to know what pumpkin seeds do to your body. You can also find suitable scientific evidence for these benefits.

    How Do Pumpkin Seeds Benefit Your Health?

    Pumpkin seeds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-arthritic, and antidiabetic properties. Extensive research also linked the consumption of these seeds to lower the risk of cancer and UTIs.

    1. May Possess Anticancer Properties

    Folk medicine used pumpkin seed extracts to treat kidney, bladder, and prostate disorders for centuries. The active molecules, like cucurbitin, inhibit the rapid growth of cancer cells (3).

    Experimental studies noted about 40-50% of growth inhibition in prostate, breast, and colon cancer cells. This could be due to the presence of estrogen-like molecules (phytoestrogens) in pumpkin seeds (3).

    Compounds like lignans and flavones alter the expression of genes mainly involved in the prevention/management of breast and prostate cancers.

    2. May Nourish And Repair Skin

    Pumpkin seeds and their oil are excellent skin care agents. The bright orange pigment-producing molecules, called carotenoids, have anti-aging effects. They scavenge free radicals that cause premature aging of the skin (4).

    Vitamins A and C in the seeds boost the production of collagen. Collagen helps in wound healing and keeps your skin young and wrinkle-free. The oil has omega-3 fatty acids and ß-carotene. These components are potent anti-inflammatory agents (4), (5), (6).

    Using pumpkin seed oil as a topical agent can treat acne, blisters, and chronic inflammation of the skin. It also prevents bacterial and fungal infections when used as a scrub, lotion, or when massaged (4).

    3. May Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases

    Several animal studies demonstrate the positive effects of pumpkin seed supplementation on heart health. Subjects on a high-fat diet showed a significant decrease in the levels of total cholesterol (7).

    The seeds could also lower the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) by about 79% in the subjects. The studies also report a drop in the levels of inflammatory markers like nitric oxide (7).

    Adding pumpkin seeds to your diet can prevent cholesterol accumulation and hardening of the blood vessels. This prevents various heart issues like coronary artery disease, stroke, etc. (7)

    4. May Improve Prostate Health

    Pumpkin seeds have a notable protective effect on the prostate gland. The prostate is said to store minerals, like zinc. These minerals prevent issues like prostate enlargement (hyperplasia) induced by testosterone imbalance (8), (9).

    As they contain useful amounts of zinc, these seeds and oil have shown to inhibit prostate enlargement. Lab trials suggest that oil-free pumpkin seeds may help manage benign prostatic hyperplasia (9), (10).

    By managing hyperplasia, the male subjects would have less urine retention. This would lessen the risk of urinary tract infections (10).

    5. May Treat Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

    The pumpkin seed oil has been useful to treat urinary disorders, especially in men. It does so by inhibiting issues like prostate enlargement. Clinical trials have proved that this oil is well-tolerated (11).

    Large doses of about 500-1000 mg/day did not trigger undesirable effects. In fact, when subjects with overactive bladder were given this dose for 6 and 12 weeks, their urinary function significantly improved (11).

    6. May Promote Hair Growth

    These seeds contain good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Along with other micronutrients, these fatty acids aid in improving the texture of dry and brittle hair. Zinc is another factor that boosts the production of hair proteins. Pumpkin seeds contain zinc in abundance (12).

    Twenty four weeks of treatment with pumpkin seed oil increased hair growth by about 40% in men with baldness. This could happen because the seeds have active molecules called phytosterols. They inhibit the enzymes (proteins) that breakdown hair protein and cause hair fall (13), (14).

    7. May Help Manage Diabetes

    Pumpkin seeds exhibit active antidiabetic effects. They possess phytochemicals, such as flavonoids and saponins, that effectively control blood glucose levels. These molecules prevent the inflammation of insulin-producing pancreatic cells (14), (15).

    Animal studies show that a diet rich in flax and pumpkin seeds enhances the antioxidant enzyme activity. In subjects with diabetes, these enzymes rapidly scavenge the free radicals and thus lessen the impact on the kidneys and pancreas (16).

    Not just the seeds, pumpkin leaves and pulp have also been identified to possess antidiabetic properties. The fruit contains complex carbohydrates like pectin, which may help regulate your sugar levels (17).


    • Pumpkin seeds have high levels of magnesium. Eating them or using the oil may relieve muscle cramps, bone pain, arthritis, and inflammation. This mineral also boosts memory and cognition (18).
    • Along with magnesium, pumpkin seeds are also rich in an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan relieves anxiety and promotes sleep. This happens because it triggers the release of a ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter, serotonin (19).
    • These seeds contain high levels of phosphorus. Phosphorus can eliminate the insoluble compounds in food or those accumulated in your body, like calcium oxalate. Thus, consuming pumpkin seeds may help in lowering the risk of bladder stones.

    8. May Lower Cholesterol And Risk Of Obesity

    High/abnormal lipid levels are linked to cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and even death. Eating foods that control the metabolism, accumulation, and excretion of lipids, like cholesterol, is the easiest way to avoid such disorders.

    Pumpkin seeds are rich sources of good fats, fiber, and antioxidants. Along with other plant seeds like flax and purslane, pumpkin seeds can prevent body weight gain and cholesterol accumulation in the liver (20).

    The strong anti-obesity effect of these seeds is attributed to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols, vitamin-E derivatives, and ß-carotene. Linoleic, linolenic, and oleic acids help lower blood cholesterol levels (20).

    They also maintain kidney and liver functioning in obese/overweight individuals (20).

    However, most of the studies have been done on rats, and the dosage for humans may vary.

    To know the distribution of these phytonutrients in pumpkin seeds, check out the next section.

    Nutritional Details Of Pumpkin Seeds

    Nutrient Unit 1 cup (64 g)
    Water g 2.88
    Energy kcal 285
    Protein g 11.87
    Total lipid (fat) g 12.42
    Carbohydrate, by difference g 34.4
    Fiber, total dietary g 11.8
    Calcium, Ca mg 35
    Iron, Fe mg 2.12
    Magnesium, Mg mg 168
    Phosphorus, P mg 59
    Potassium, K mg 588
    Sodium, Na mg 12
    Zinc, Zn mg 6.59
    Copper, Cu mg 0.442
    Manganese, Mn mg 0.317
    Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid mg 0.2
    Thiamin mg 0.022
    Riboflavin mg 0.033
    Niacin mg 0.183
    Pantothenic acid mg 0.036
    Vitamin B-6 mg 0.024
    Folate, total µg 6
    Folate, food µg 6
    Folate, DFE µg 6
    Vitamin A, RAE µg 2
    Vitamin A, IU IU 40
    Fatty acids, total saturated g 2.349
    12:00 g 0.012
    14:00 g 0.014
    16:00 g 1.519
    18:00 g 0.761
    Fatty acids, total monounsaturated g 3.86
    16:1 undifferentiated g 0.027
    18:1 undifferentiated g 3.83
    Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated g 5.66
    18:2 undifferentiated g 5.606
    18:3 undifferentiated g 0.049
    Cholesterol mg 0
    Amino Acids
    Tryptophan g 0.209
    Threonine g 0.437
    Isoleucine g 0.612
    Leucine g 1.006
    Lysine g 0.887
    Methionine g 0.267
    Cystine g 0.146
    Phenylalanine g 0.591
    Tyrosine g 0.493
    Valine g 0.954
    Arginine g 1.951
    Histidine g 0.33
    Alanine g 0.56
    Aspartic acid g 1.199
    Glutamic acid g 2.088
    Glycine g 0.869
    Proline g 0.484
    Serine g 0.556

    Now you know why health-freaks obsess over these seeds.

    With all these nutrients, pumpkin seeds taste nutty and delicious. You can nibble on the roasted/toasted seeds as a guilt-free snack.

    Here’s how you make them.

    How To Prepare Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Snack

    What You Need

    • Pumpkin seeds: 2 cups
    • Water: 1 liter
    • Salt: 2 tablespoons
    • Unsalted butter, melted: 1 tablespoon
    • Mixing bowl: medium-sized
    • Cookie sheet or Frying pan: medium-large

    Let’s Make It!

    1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
    2. Prepare the pumpkin seeds. Remove any cut seeds and as much of the stringy fibers as possible.
    3. Add 1 liter of water and salt to a suitable vessel and bring it to a boil.
    4. Add the cleaned pumpkin seeds.
    5. Boil for 10 minutes.
    6. Drain the water and spread the seeds on a clean kitchen/paper towel.
    7. Pat the seeds dry.
    8. Transfer the well-dried seeds to a mixing bowl.
    9. Add the melted butter. Toss the seeds to coat with butter uniformly.
    10. Spread the coated seeds evenly on a large cookie sheet or roasting pan.
    11. Place the pan in the preheated oven. You can also do the following steps on a stove.
    12. Roast the seeds for 30-40 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
    13. Stir about every 10 minutes while roasting.
    14. Cool the seeds.
    15. Shell the kernels off and chomp on the seeds.
    16. You can also store them in an airtight container or zip-lock bag for future use. The seeds can be refrigerated in this condition too.

    You can also sprinkle these seeds over salads, soups, porridges, breakfast cereal, and pasta.

    But, is it safe to eat these seeds every day? If it is not, what is a safe serving size?

    Is It Safe To Eat Pumpkin Seeds? How Much Is Safe?

    There is no scientific study demonstrating the side effects of these seeds. In rare cases, an overdose may cause constipation and bloating.

    Also, not enough research has been done to establish a safe intake limit of pumpkin seeds. Though they are generally considered safe for pregnant and lactating women, there is no scientific basis to prove this.

    Therefore, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider for information on the safety and dosage of pumpkin seeds.

    In Summary

    Pumpkin seeds are natural sources of essential fatty acids, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and phytochemicals. Including them in your diet can nurture your skin and hair. They have beneficial effects on the urinary tract, prostate, and fertility issues in men.

    Find out a safe dose range for you from a nutritionist/doctor. Use pumpkin seeds as a snack or garnish in your cooking. Send your queries, comments, and feedback using the section below.

    Enjoy the crunch and care pumpkin seeds give you!

    20 sources

    Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

    • Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seed and Nutrition Profile of 35 Pumpkin Accessions, EDIS, IFAS Extension, The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agriculture, University of Florida.
    • Amino acid, mineral and fatty acid content of pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita spp) and Cyperus esculentus nuts in the Republic of Niger, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
    • Pumpkin seed extract: Cell growth inhibition of hyperplastic and cancer cells, independent of steroid hormone receptors, Fitoterapia, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    • Properties of Pumpkin Seed Oil & Therapy of Inflammatory Facial Acne Vulgaris, International Journal of Science and Research, Academia
    • Oil from pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) seeds: evaluation of its functional properties on wound healing in rats, Lipids in Health and Disease, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    • PUMPKIN, PUMPKIN, PUMPKIN FOR BEAUTY, American Institute of Beauty, Inc.
    • The Effect of Pumpkin (Cucurbita Pepo L) Seeds and L-Arginine Supplementation on Serum Lipid Concentrations in Atherogenic Rats, African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    • Protect Your Prostate, Health & Wellness, Rush University Medical Center.
    • Inhibition of testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate of sprague-dawley rats by pumpkin seed oil, Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    • Effects of an Oil-Free Hydroethanolic Pumpkin Seed Extract on Symptom Frequency and Severity in Men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Pilot Study in Humans, Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    • Pumpkin Seed Oil Extracted From Cucurbita maxima Improves Urinary Disorder in Human Overactive Bladder, Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    • 10 Foods That Promote Healthy Hair, Sylvain Melloul International Hair Academy.
    • Hair-growth promoting activity of plant extracts of suruhan (Peperomia pellucida) in Rabbits, IOSR Journal of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences, Academia.
    • A comprehensive review of the versatile pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita maxima) As A valuable natural medicine, International Journal of Current Research, Academia.
    • The hypoglycemic effect of pumpkin seeds, Trigonelline (TRG), Nicotinic acid (NA), and D-Chiro-inositol (DCI) in controlling glycemic levels in diabetes mellitus, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    • Flax and Pumpkin seeds mixture ameliorates diabetic nephropathy in rats, Food and Chemical Toxicology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    • The hypoglycaemic effect of pumpkins as anti-diabetic and functional medicine, Food Research International, Academia.
    • What Should I Eat for My Specific Condition?, Taking Charge of your Health & Wellness, University of Minnesota.
    • Pumpkin Benefits, Get-U-Fit blog, Warhawk Fitness & Aquatics, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
    • The antiatherogenic, renal protective and immunomodulatory effects of purslane, pumpkin and flax seeds on hypercholesterolemic rats, North American Journal of Medical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

    Recommended Articles

    • 15 Amazing Health Benefits And Uses Of Castor Seeds (Arand Ke Beej)
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    Swathi Handoo

    Swathi holds a Master’s degree in Biotechnology and has worked in places where actual science and research happen. Blending her love for writing with science, Swathi writes for Health and Wellness and simplifies complex topics for readers from all walks of life.And on the days she doesn’t write, she learns and performs Kathak, sings Carnatic music compositions, makes plans to travel, and obsesses over cleanliness.

    FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, click here to contact us!

    In the United States, pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. An orange fruit harvested in October, this nutritious and versatile plant features flowers, seeds and flesh that are edible and rich in vitamins. Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals. Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that originated hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Back then, however, jack-o’-lanterns were made out of turnips or potatoes; it wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin that a new Halloween ritual was born.

    Pumpkin Facts

    • Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini. These plants are native to Central America and Mexico, but now grow on six continents.
    • The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds.
    • Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.
    • In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding “gros melons.” The name was translated into English as “pompions,” which has since evolved into the modern “pumpkin.”
    • Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.
    • The heaviest pumpkin weighed 1,810 lb 8 oz and was presented by Chris Stevens at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minnesota, in October 2010.
    • Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.

    Access hundreds of hours of historical video, commercial free, with HISTORY Vault. Start your free trial today.

    History of Pumpkins and Recipe Round-Up

    There is no denying that once autumn rolls in, the pumpkin reigns supreme. All year long folks wait for their favorite coffee shops to fill with the aroma of pumpkin spice lattes. It’s the season when grocery stores stock their shelves with limited edition pumpkin cookies and ice cream. October is synonymous with Halloween jack-o’-lanterns; as Thanksgiving approaches we pull out our time-honored pumpkin pie recipes. It seems that no food symbolizes the blustery fall season quite like pumpkins.

    Archaeologists discovered the oldest domesticated pumpkin seeds in the Oaxaca Highlands of Mexico. Pumpkins are believed to have originated in Central America over 7,500 years ago. The first pumpkins held very little resemblance to the sweet, bright orange variety we are familiar with. The original pumpkins were small and hard with a bitter flavor. Rather than using their nutritional and readily available seeds, pre-Columbian natives grew pumpkins for their flesh. They were among the first crops grown for human consumption in North America. Thanks to their solid, thick flesh, pumpkins proved ideal for storing during cold weather and in times of scarcity.

    One of the first American pumpkin recipes was included in John Josselyn’s New-England’s Rarities Discovered, published in the early 1670’s. The recipe was for a side dish made from diced ripe pumpkin that had been cooked down in a pot over the course of a day. Once the pumpkin was cooked butter and spices were added, much like the recipes for mashed squash or sweet potatoes we see today. During the 17th century, women challenged themselves in the kitchen by developing unique and tasty new ways to serve pumpkin.Today, the most popular way to prepare pumpkins is undoubtedly pumpkin pie. This trend first began during the 1800’s when it became stylish to serve sweetened pumpkin dishes during the holiday meal. The earliest sweet pumpkin recipes were made from pumpkin shells that had been scooped out and filled with a ginger-spiced milk, then roasted by the fire.

    Circleville, Ohio is home to the Circleville Pumpkin Festival, which is the largest of its kind. The town was once home to E. Sears Canning, a large cannery that regularly processed pumpkin products. During the fall season, farmers would fill their wagons with pumpkins and head to the cannery to have them processed and canned. In 1903 Circleville mayor George Haswell started an autumn produce festival, and pumpkins became the centerpiece of the event. The canning company shut down during the Great Depression, but the festival continues to this day. Now known as the Pumpkin Show, this large event celebrates pumpkins in many forms. There you can expect to find a variety of pumpkin-flavored treats including pumpkin donuts, burgers, taffy and ice cream. The festival also holds a contest for largest pumpkin, largest pumpkin pie and a Miss Pumpkin Show pageant.

    According to Guinness World Records, Beni Meier of Germany presented the heaviest pumpkin to date on October 12, 2014. The massive pumpkin weighed in at 2,323.7 lbs. Shockingly, this was the third record-breaking pumpkin grown by Meier during this season.

    Pumpkins are a versatile and important food worth celebrating. Each year, a multitude of creative pumpkin recipes pop up in cookbooks, culinary TV shows and food blogs. I think 17th century cooks would be proud of our modern kitchen ingenuity. What are some of your favorite ways to eat and prepare pumpkin?

    Research Sources

    Circleville Pumpkin Show Official Website – History. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.

    Heaviest Pumpkin. Guinness World Records Limited 2014, 12 Oct. 2014. Web. 05 Nov. 2014.

    Josselyn, John. New England’s Rarities. Google Books, Web. 5 Nov. 2014.

    Ott, Cindy (2012). Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon. University of Washington Press, US.

    Smith, Andrew F. (2007). The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press, New York, New York.


    PBS Food – Pumpkin Apple Baked Beans

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    Ree Drummond The Pioneer Woman – Pumpkin Soup

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    Meet the Author

    Tori Avey is a food writer, recipe developer, and the creator of ToriAvey.com. She explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Tori’s food writing and photography have appeared on the websites of CNN, Bon Appetit, Zabar’s, Williams-Sonoma, Yahoo Shine, LA Weekly and The Huffington Post. Follow Tori on Facebook: Tori Avey, Twitter: @toriavey, or Google+.

    Pumpkins & the Origin of Jack O’Lanterns
    California is one of the top five producers of pumpkins in the US. Nearly all California pumpkins are produced for the fresh market, sold directly to stores or right off the farm.

    Fresh market pumpkins are grown for the Halloween harvest and fall season. The most popular varieties are planted in June or July so they are ready for families and kiddos to enjoy their seasonal glory.

    Not only are pumpkins perfect for the Halloween holiday with their celebratory colors and jack o’lantern potential, but they are packed full of health benefits. Pumpkin is a highly nutrient-dense food. It is rich in vitamins and minerals but low in calories. Pumpkin seeds, leaves, and juices all pack a powerful nutritional punch.

    Pumpkins have antioxidants, such as beta carotene, in them, as well as potassium which helps regulate blood pressure.

    Preparing fresh pumpkin at home will deliver the most benefits for your health, but canned pumpkin is also a great choice. Pumpkin retains many of its health benefits in the canning process.

    In other words, you should eat more pumpkin… start by making your own pumpkin spice mix. Get the recipe and two ways to use it!

    So, where did the whole Jack O’Lantern thing come from?
    Every October, pumpkins carved with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating jack o’lanterns originated in Ireland, where they used large turnips, potatoes, or beets. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.

    As the Irish legend goes, a guy nicknamed Stingy Jack made a couple bad deals with the devil. When his life finally came to an end he was not welcomed into heaven or hell. His spirit was bound to earth forever, with only a burning coal to guide his way. He put the coal into a turnip to carry it and has been roaming the earth ever since.

    The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.” In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits.

    Since pumpkins are native to North America, they are the chosen fruit to ward off evil on All Hallows’ Eve!… Boo!


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