How do you distinguish between pumpkins and squash? How long will pumpkins last? Apart from carving, how else can you use them? This article has a lot of information to help answer the questions!
It’s possible you’ve associated pumpkins and Halloween’s Jack-o’lanterns. Pumpkin pie to celebrate Thanksgiving and the fall season.
But, there’s more to squash players than what’s apparent.
The first pumpkins to be domesticated were found in Central and Southern America, with archaeologists collecting pumpkin seeds and fragments from 7,000 years ago in Oaxaca.
The cultivation continued to expand into North America. It is believed that the Native Americans used them extensively for their food.
Nowadays, the cultivation of pumpkins is commonplace throughout the world, with the exception of Antarctica. There are numerous pumpkin varieties across all regions!
Pumpkins are very popular due to their variety and health benefits.
Different types of Pumpkins
Pumpkins are part of the gourd family called Cucurbitaceae. The family also contains winter squash courgettes, zucchini, and melon, as well as cucumbers.
The species is known for its high content of water vines, big flat seeds, and lobed leaves. Pumpkins are available in a variety of shades, shapes, tastes, textures, and sizes.
The current varieties are organic or artificially produced. Although it is difficult to list all existing pumpkin varieties, some species have been introduced to the world and are relevant.
They are Cucurbita Pepo, argyrosperma, moschata, and maxima. Examples of pumpkins belonging to each species are buttercup squash, winter squash, pumpkins with crooknecks, cushaw pumpkins, butternut squash, Turban gourds, and large cheese squash.
Pumpkins are extremely versatile. They are an ideal choice for any home.
They are utilized to serve in the following manners: decorative, culinary food, personal care, agricultural, medical, cultural, and industrial use.
Dietary Values and Health Benefits
They are often dismissed because they aren’t appealing. But, they are among the healthiest foods. Have you ever thought about the reason why they are so popular for baby food?
The pumpkin is a smorgasbord of minerals, vitamins, and other compounds that are beneficial to our bodies.
Additionally, the fact that they are low in calories makes them extremely beneficial for managing weight. This is a brief overview of each:
The pumpkin’s high levels of vitamin C to potent antioxidants are known as beta-carotene. These are the compounds responsible for the deep, orange-colored hue of pumpkins.
Vitamin A or retinol is a good source of vision and cell development and helps to regulate the functioning of organs, the immune and reproductive systems, and the growth of tissues.
Vitamin A is among the most abundant of all the other nutrients in pumpkins. A cup of pumpkin has 198% vitamin A.
Pumpkins are also a great source of this vital vitamin. Ascorbic acid is crucial in maintaining healthy skin, as it helps produce collagen.
It also helps strengthen the immune system, which protects the body from illness and infections. Vitamin C also lowers cholesterol levels (LDL) and thus protects our body against cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.
Furthermore, Vitamin C assists in absorbing iron and thus helps to reduce iron deficiency.
Additionally, it reduces uric acid levels in the blood, stopping gout from occurring.
Pumpkins are rich in potassium. This essential mineral helps the body in a variety of ways. Potassium assists in balancing fluids by reducing the amount of water retained.
It also assists in maintaining the health of the nervous system by activating nerve impulses that control various functions, including heartbeat and muscle contractions.
Potassium can also help maintain strong bones and prevent calcium loss from the body.
The high potassium levels within the body control the calcium levels in urine. This assists in preventing kidney stones.
Fiber and high-water content
Pumpkins are a great source of fiber and aid in maintaining the health of your digestive tract. Fiber helps in bowel movement and is typically used in helping to ease constipation.
The fiber in pumpkin isn’t just found inside the flesh of the pumpkin; it is also present in the edible seeds too. In addition to fiber, the flesh of a pumpkin contains a high amount of water.
This helps keep the body hydrated and helps in digestion.
Protein’s essential nutrients are manganese, vitamin E, copper, iron, and vitamin B2.
Shelf Life of Pumpkins
While pumpkins can last due to their thick peels, Fresh ones may deteriorate rapidly if not properly stored.
Fresh and whole pumpkins are stored well in the refrigerator and the pantry. When stored in the kitchen, a completely fresh pumpkin can be kept in a good state for three months or more. If you decide to store it in a refrigerator you can extend it up to five months.
Cut pumpkins are the most susceptible to deterioration. So, keep them refrigerated after wrapping them in heavy-duty plastic wraps. Cut pieces will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Another option is to freeze the cut pumpkins. The ones that are properly frozen last eight months or more. The same goes for pureed pumpkins. Freeze pumpkin puree in small portions and use them within 8 months.
If you’ve removed the seeds and are thinking of using them, it’s better to dry or roast them before using them. Scrape off any flesh and clean the seeds. Roast them until dry and crispy. Keep them within an airtight wooden container. The dried pumpkin seeds will last for up to one year.
It is possible that you are a fan of pumpkins and take the step of extracting oil from seeds. Therefore, pumpkin seed oil will keep well when stored in a dry, cool area. It will keep in good condition for six months.
How to Store Pumpkins to last longer
Pumpkins can be stored for a long time due to their strong, sturdy peel. They can be useful even outside of the season.
Therefore they are a treat throughout the year regardless of whether you’ve preserved them or are fresh.
If you’re overflowing supplies and are wondering what is the best way to deal with it? Here are a few options to keep pumpkins in good condition.
Extraction of moisture from food products ensures a long shelf life. The pumpkin is a great choice to dry. Drying can be accomplished with the oven, food dehydrator equipment, or sunlight.
Drying pumpkin in two ways: pureed pumpkin or pumpkin chunks/slices is possible. Slices should be uniformly cut slices to ensure that they dry thoroughly.
Dry the pumpkin purée by spreading it over an oiled sheet. The oven or dehydrator works best to do this.
After drying completely, the dried puree can slough off quickly. Break it up into smaller pieces and keep it in an airtight container. The dried pumpkin was stored well for 2 years.
Canning is a fantastic method of keeping pumpkins in their natural shape.
When you can them, slice the contents evenly to make them fit nicely in canning jars. Make sure to use a specific recipe for canning without altering any ratio of ingredients.
Use the pantry, refrigerator, well as freezer for storing canned goods.
Cans that are not opened will last well in the refrigerator or pantry. They will last two years or more.
The opened cans stay good within the fridge for one week or can be stored in the freezer for up to 5 months.
If you’re using fresh pumpkin, the indications of spoilage are:
- Pungent smell
- Watery, oozy flesh
- Discoloration of skin and flesh
- Mold growth visible
- To find canned pumpkins, look at the contents in the cans. Any signs of discoloration indicate loss of quality. Remove them as soon as you notice any signs of spoilage.
How long can pumpkins last? The shelf life is dependent on the way you store and handle them. They are, in fact, edible, but you can keep them in storage for longer shelf lives.
Heya, I’m Norah! The foodie editor here at YummyTasteFood! I love absolutely everything to do with food, baking, and eating! I earned my stripes in the hospitality industry as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. I’m now a freelance writing nomad. I do not miss the hospitality industry! Be sure to join our Facebook group – it’s free to access!