The air cools, the leaves turn, our wardrobe changes and so does our taste. There’s new aromas complemented with favorite flavors and recipes passed down through generations – it’s evident there’s pumpkin in the air. What is the heritage of these strange-looking melons – yes, melons – and why are we almost fanatical about infusing pumpkin into almost everything during the fall?
If you’re looking for some new infusions of pumpkin into your fall season, get in touch with our culinary team at The Paramount Group.
Pumpkins actually originate from Mexico, smaller versions of what we produce today and harvested specifically to create dishes that align with the annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
While most parts of the world only use the pulp of the pumpkin, the indigenous people of Mexico have cooked with the entire calabaza for thousands of years. The pepitas (seeds) were cherished by the Aztecs, and the entire fruit was enjoyed by the Mayans – pumpkin flesh was cooked into sauces, the hulled seeds were toasted and ground up and the rinds were carved into drinking vessels.
These original pumpkins were small, hard and bitter, but their durable exterior was ideal for surviving harsh weather and less bountiful harvests, which made them an integral part of the ancient Mexican diet.
The Beginning of pumpkin pie
It wasn’t until the 16th century that pumpkin was first referenced in a prayer book made for Anne de Bretagne, the duchess of Brittany, France. Once domesticated, the crop produced larger fruit, developing more colors and sizes, compared with the wild and was originally used in pie by the French.
Although, the European colonists responsible for the origin of pumpkin pie prepared it by cutting off the pumpkin top, removing the seeds, then fill it with honey, milk, and seasonings before baking it in hot ashes.
Of course, there are many other historical application of pumpkin ranging from medicinal: such as the sap and pulp being used to treat burns and the seeds as a diuretic, to decorative: with dried skin being used for woven crafts of Native Americans.
So, that explains that – but what about these larger Pumpkins that are all the rage for Jack-o-lanterns during Halloween in North America?
The Irish and Scottish traditionally carved turnips and potatoes into lanterns so they could ward off wandering spirits. Upon settling in North America with no root vegetables to be found, they converted this folklore tradition to the pumpkin. However, Americans didn’t embrace carved pumpkins until the 1920s with farmers growing Connecticut and Howden pumpkins for Halloween, which is still the most popular carving pumpkin.
Nowadays, of course pumpkin is infused into all manner of consumables including: candles, lotions, facial creams, soaps, soup, bread, butter, brownies, bagels, scones and even flavored beer. Let’s not forget the Pumpkin Spice Latte that basically is its own food group!
Rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins A, B2, C and E the pumpkin is considered a superfood due to its health benefits. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pumpkin#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5 it even gives you a booster to your immune system which is especially important this year!
If you’re looking for some new infusions of pumpkin into your fall season, get in touch with our culinary team at The Paramount Group. We’re here to help you ward off those nasties during the coming winter months with some delicious, tasty and healthy treats for you and your family.