Pumpkin – Cucurbita pepe, C. mixta, C. maxima, C. moschata
The origin of pumpkins is not known, although pumpkins are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C., were found in Mexico. Pumpkins are a squash-like fruit that range in size (less than 1 pound to over 1000 pounds), shape, color, and appearance (smooth or ribbed).
Since some squash share the same botanical classifications as pumpkins, the names are frequently used interchangeably. In general, pumpkins have stems which are firmer, more rigid, pricklier, have a +/- 5 degree angle, and are squarer in shape than squash stems which are generally softer, more rounded, and more flared where joined to the fruit.
Pumpkins generally weigh 9–18 lbs (4–8 kg) with the largest (of the species C. maxima) capable of reaching a weight of over 75 lbs (34 kg). The pumpkin varies greatly in shape, ranging from oblate through oblong. The rind is smooth and usually lightly ribbed. Although pumpkins are usually orange or yellow, some fruits are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and gray.
Pumpkins are angiosperms, having both male and female flowers, the latter distinguished by the small ovary at the base of the petals. These bright and colorful flowers have extremely short life spans, and may only open for as short a time as one day. The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. The main nutrients are lutein, and both alpha- and beta- carotene.
_______________________ Pumpkin Spice Waffles
My son grows our Thanksgiving pumpkins every year, with enough left over for a few batches of waffles or pumpkin bread. These are a nice brunch item for a Saturday morning before hitting the chores.
Pre-heat waffle iron.
½ c. pumpkin puree
½ c. sour cream or yogurt
½ c. milk
2 egg yolks
½ stick butter, melted
2 T. brown sugar
In a separate bowl, combine:
¾ c. plus 2 T. flour
1 t. baking powder
¼ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. nutmeg
Add the dry and wet ingredients, then fold in:
2 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
Pour batter onto hot waffle iron, cook about 3 to 5 minutes (or until done) and serve with real maple syrup.
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