The arrival of harvest season brings to mind carving pumpkins and baking pumpkin pies. While you're designing jack-o'-lanterns or digging into your favorite pumpkin recipe, entertain family and friends with these pumpkin facts:
- The word pumpkin comes from the Greek word "pepon," which means large melon. Pumpkins are native to the Americas.
- More than 1.3 million pounds (589,700 kg) of pumpkins were produced in the U.S. in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This crop was valued at more than $145 million.
- A single pumpkin vine can grow up to 30 feet (9 meters) in length and contains both male and female blossoms. The male blossoms attract bees, which are necessary for pollination of the female blooms.
- According to Guinness World Records, the record for the heaviest pumpkin was set in 2010 with a pumpkin that weighed 2,323 pounds (1,054 kilograms). The record for the largest pumpkin pie, also set in 2010, was 3,699 pounds (1,678 kilograms). The record for the fastest carving of a jack-o'-lantern was 16.47 seconds and was set in 2013.
- Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte was released in fall of 2003. Although it has been a seasonal best seller, it contains no pumpkin. In August 2015, Starbucks announced it will change the recipe to include real pumpkin and no caramel coloring.
- Pumpkin is low in calories (about 80 for 1 cup puree). It's a very good source of fiber, vitamins A and C, and the minerals iron, potassium and manganese. Pumpkin seeds are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- The oil made from pumpkin seeds is possibly effective for symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia).
- Pumpkins that are specifically grown for eating are smaller, sweeter and less watery than the larger, stringy pumpkins sold for carving.
- Pumpkin flowers, leaves and seeds are all edible.
- Pumpkin is a versatile ingredient. It can be made into a soup, sauce, puree, mash or custard (pie filling). It can be sauteed or roasted. It can be a main ingredient in pancakes, muffins and breads.
So as our attention turns to fall — and to pumpkins — why not eat more pumpkin and chew on some of these facts?
Oct. 06, 2015
- Vegetables: 2014 Summary. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/VegeSumm/VegeSumm-01-29-2015.pdf. Accessed Oct. 1, 2015.
- Harvest of the month. Network for a Healthy California. http://harvestofthemonth.cdph.ca.gov/Documents/Fall/Pumpkin/Pumpkins%20-%20Educator's%20Newsletter.pdf#search=pumpkin. Accessed Oct. 1, 2015.
- Guinness World Records. http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com. Accessed Oct. 1, 2015.
- Big news for the beloved pumpkin spice latte. Starbucks.com. http://blogs.starbucks.com/blogs/customer/archive/2015/08/17/pumpkin-spice-latte-2015.aspx. Accessed Oct. 1, 2015.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov. Accessed Oct. 1, 2015
- Pumpkin. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=810. Accessed Oct. 1, 2015.
- All about pumpkins. University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. http://cals.arizona.edu/yavapai/fcs/allaboutpumpkins.pdf. Accessed Oct. 1, 2015.