Pumpkin, a low-calorie and healthy vegetable

Autumn heralds the season of the pumpkin, a squash full of roundness and color, which brings sweetness to our plates and boosts our health.

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Pumpkin, a low-calorie and healthy vegetable

Pumpkin ID card

The pumpkin is part of the large family squash (Cucurbita sp): thes Cucurbits. There are 27 species of Cucurbita sp, but the most common on our plate, belong to 3 species: Cucurbita pepo (zucchini, pumpkins, patties …), Cucurbita moschata (butternut squash, Butternuts …) and Cucurbita maxima. It is at this species that are the pumpkins and the pumpkins.

No longer confuse pumpkin and pumpkin

Often confused, pumpkin and pumpkin do not belong to the same species of squash and neither do they have the same taste qualities: the pumpkin, more tasty, goes to our plate while the pumpkin, more bland, and often intended for feeding farm animals!

Where does the pumpkin come from?

Squash are native to South and Central America, where they have been cultivated there for millennia. Pumpkin in the lead, squash arrive on the European continent during the 16th century. We do not yet distinguish between all the species. Its flavor considered bland, it is first used by the poorest or to feed cattle.

Since then, the varieties have multiplied and the pumpkin, with its soft, sweet and not very stringy flesh, has largely won its place in our kitchens.

Pumpkin season

The first pumpkins of the year are available in September. The high season is between September and December but certain varieties, of good conservation, allow consumption until the end of winter.

The different varieties of pumpkins

There is not one but several pumpkins which are distinguished by their more or less flattened shapes, but also by their colors: we always think of them with the orange-reddish skin but there are more or less dark green, white -rosé, yellows … There is not one but several pumpkins that are distinguished by their more or less flattened shapes, but also by their colors: we always think of them with the orange-reddish skin but there are some more or less dark greens, pinkish whites, yellows ….:

  • Hungarian blue ‘ : medium pumpkin (3 to 10 kg) spherical flattened, with smooth skin, gray blue in color;
  • Olive green’ : medium pumpkin (3 to 10 kg) ovoid with dark green smooth skin and yellow flesh;
  • Bright red from Etampes’ : large pumpkin (5 to 20 kg) ribbed, slightly flattened, bright red-orange.

The nutritional qualities of pumpkin *

Rich in water (90.70 g of water per 100 g of pumpkin) and fiber, the pumpkin is a vegetable low in calories (30 calories per 100 grams).

As for vitamins, it is a very good source of β-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A (122.08% of the NRVs ** when roasted) known for its antioxidant effects and for contributing to the proper functioning of the immune system. We also appreciate its vitamin C content (9 mg per 100 g raw), vitamin E and B, but unfortunately almost everything disappears when cooked.

On the mineral side, its share of potassium (330 mg per 100 g cooked or 16.50% of the NRVs **) is also interesting (beneficial action on the nervous system, muscles and blood pressure).

Caratenoids: in addition to β-carotene, pumpkin also contains a good dose of lutein and zeaxanthin which contribute to the good health of the eyes (retina) and in particular helps protect against macular degeneration.

What about the seeds?

Pumpkin seeds (and squash in general) are rich in protein and have interesting contents linoleic acid (essential fatty acids) and vitamin E.

How to choose your pumpkin?

The pumpkin must be tough. If you don’t have to eat it quickly, choose it with the peduncle, without stain or injury, to be able to keep it for a long time.

Purchased sliced, the flesh should not be soft.

How to store pumpkins?

Unlike most vegetables, the pumpkin does not need a cool, dark place, but rather a dry and ventilated room where the temperature is between 15 and 20 ° C. Darkness is not necessary, but it is important that the place is dry: the pumpkin sweats a lot.

In good storage conditions, the pumpkin can keep 3 to 8 months, according to variety, and not started. But beyond 6 months, some varieties become fibrous.

Coupé in slices, it will keep in the refrigerator 2 to 3 days, seedless and covered with a film.

How to consume pumpkins?

The skin of the pumpkin is edible, but if you want to remove it, first cut it into large slices and then peel them using a peeler. It is also possible to remove it very easily after cooking.

According to your preferences, you can prepare it in a casserole dish (Pumpkin stew, red lentils and spices, pan-fried, gratin (Pumpkin and potato gratin), in pies (Salted pumpkin cinnamon pie), in soup, or even in soft blinis (Pumpkin and boiled egg blinis) !

Cooking time :

  • 15 to 20 min steaming.
  • 20 min in a casserole dish, stewed.
  • 15 min. in a pan, cut into cubes.
  • 30 min in the oven, cut into slices.
  • 10 min in water, in pieces.
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Infographic – Pumpkin, a low-calorie and healthy vegetable

* Sources: ANSES 2020 (Table of nutritional composition of Ciqual foods) / aprifel.com.

** VNR: reference nutritional value, formerly called Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), per 100g.


Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.

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