Pumpkins were known and loved already in ancient times, according to Greek and .... who are overweight, gouty, or suffer from diabetes, renal insufficiency etc.
A CONCISE HISTORY OF PUMPKINS
A touch of pumpkin culture
• Pumpkins were known and loved already in ancient times, according to Greek and Roman descriptions. • According to latest research, pumpkin, as we know them today, originated from the Cucurbita texana. It was a precious nutriment for Indians of the American continent: they used its leaves as vegetable, its fruit was cooked and dried. They nibbled the seeds, the leaves were served after main dishes. • 6-8000 years ago a real ’pumpkin-culture’ era was flourishing in Central- and South-America. Besides serving as food, pumpkins were used to produce spoons, bails, and vessels from. It served as bob during fishing. Even musical instruments were made of pumpkins. • This pumpkin culture was’ imported’ by Columbus into Europe. In just a few decades pumpkins had dispersed all over Central- and South-Europe. • No precise data of pumpkin-plantations in the world are available, as in many countries the pumpkin growing territories are registered with other pumpkin-like plants(e.g. melon, cucumber). Pumpkin-growing has become significant after World War II. It covered the fat-needs of starving people. • Pumpkins are warm-intensive. They are mostly grown in the south, in areas with continental climate (gentle, sunny slopes): Southern Styria, Southern Burgenland, Serbia, Slovenia and some parts of Hungary are suitable for pumpkin-growing in Europe. • The largest pumpkin-growing territories of the world can be found in the former Soviet Union, USA, China, Egypt, Romania, Austria, Italy and Serbia
Pumpkins with hull-less seeds (also called Styrian pumpkins) are a actually mutants, in which the outer shells of the seeds have not become woody. They have been around for just about a 100 years or so. The fat- and protein-volume of oil-pumpkins are quite high. They contain precious mineral materials, amino acids, vitamins and trace elements.
• Until the 1970s pumpkins were harvested by hand, starting in mid- September. Seeds were dried in the sun, the fruits were eaten by animals. • Before 1970 the farmers of Western-Styria began to develop a harvester in co-operation with the local blacksmiths. Use of machines in harvest became widespread in territories larger than 1-2 ha. • After harvest seeds must be washed immediately. The sticking fruit and mucilage can be removed in this way. As seeds are regarded as food, the water used for washing must be from the mains. The washed seeds can be dried easily and then can be cleaned further. • In case of machine harvest, the quantity is so large that the seeds must be dried in a special apparatus. After washing the seeds are spread out on a drying sieve and they are dried at 40-45 (C. After 12- 15 hours the seeds are dry. The water content of seeds is ca.7%. Continuous stirring helps the drying process.
Utilization of seeds: • snack • baker’s trade • oil (esp.salads) • pharmaceutical products • oilcake •
From seeds to oil
• Based on many years’ experience, the qualified pressing masters have developed a process to preserve the precious material in the seeds, so that the oil can meet the demands of even the most sophisticated gourmands. • Seeds are washed, dried in low temperature, and stored in cool and dark place. 2,2-2,4 kg seeds need to be ground to obtain 1 litre of oil. It is kneaded with water and salt( salt helps to separate fats and proteins). • This pulpy dollop is calcined for ca.30 min., until water has evaporated and the oil in the seeds is unfolded. • Finally the dollop goes into the press, where it is compressed by 250- 300 bar. During this process the oil obtains its typical colour and flavour (similar to nuts).
Advantages of pumpkins and their oil
• Pumpkins are ideal for people who are on a diet. It is a healing meal for the stomach, especially for people who are overweight, gouty, or suffer from diabetes, renal insufficiency etc. • The rich potassium-and ballast content helps with ceasing of regular consumption. • The kind of fat found in pumpkin-seeds is one of the most precious vegetable fat. 80% of the fatty acids are unsaturated. These unsaturated fatty acids have great importance in our nourishment: they reduce cholesterol level, improve cerebrospinal circulation, slow down cerebral sclerosis. • Its Delta-7 phitosterol content soothes the complaints of prostate’s augmentation. • Its vitamin-E content helps in early pregnancy. • Its vitamin-F content helps the development of the nervous system in the foetus. • The oil is used not only in the pharmaceutical industry, but in traditional “folk-medicine” as well.