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pumpkin seed

 

Pumpkin seeds are the seeds of the garden pumpkin, Cucurbita pepo.


Kürbiskern

 

Pumpkin seeds are the seeds of the garden pumpkin, Cucurbita pepo.

The home of the gourd family is probably the area from Central America to eastern North America. The Indians cultivated the bitter-tasting wild gourd to produce edible fruits.

Shortly after the discovery of America the pumpkin found its way to Europe, but the first cultivation worth mentioning did not take place until the 17th–18th century.

Pumpkins are grown today as an economic plant mainly in the countries of the former Soviet Union, in the USA, China, Egypt and Austria. The chief suppliers of pumpkin seeds are Austria (Styria province) and Hungary.


Availability


Pumpkins are harvested in October. The seeds are freed from the meat, cleaned and dried at 30°–40°C. The shelled seeds are available year round.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


The annual pumpkin plant has stems that creep along the ground and can be up to 2 cm thick and 8 m long. The large leaves are heart-shaped and have bristly hairs. From June to September the plant carries large yellow, funnel- or bell-shaped flowers. From these develop round or oval yellow fruits with numerous seeds.

The fully matured seeds are oval, tapered to a point on one side, and quite flat and are 1.5–2.5 cm long and 1–1.5 cm wide. Beneath a whitish, leathery shell is the pumpkin seed. The seeds of most pumpkin varieties are whitish; only those of the Styrian oil pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L. convar citrullinina var. styriaca) are olive to dark green.

Pumpkin seeds taste nutty, mild, oily and slightly sweet.


Ingredients


Like all other seeds, pumpkin seeds contain very little water. At the same time, they have large amounts of fat and protein, which makes them high in calories. They are rich in fibre and have high contents of iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamin E.

In addition, the seeds contain acids, resins, lecithin, phytosterols and selenium.

100 g contain:

Pumpkin seed
Energy (kcal)
560
Water (g)
2
Protein (g)
24
Fat (g)
46
Carbohydrates (g) (g)
14
Fibre (g)
9
Vitamin A (RE) (µg)
38
Vitamin E (mg)
4
Vitamin B1 (mg)
0,2
Vitamin B2 (mg)
0,3
Niacin (mg)
8
Vitamin B6 (mg)
0,1
Folic acid (µg)
50
Potassium (mg)
814
Sodium (mg)
18
Calcium (mg)
41
Magnesium (mg)
402
Iron (mg)
12,5
Saturated fatty acids
9,4
Monounsaturated fatty acids (g)
10,6
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (g)
23,6



Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


Pumpkin seeds should be stored cool and dark in an air-tight container.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


In Germany predominantly shelled pumpkin seeds are sold. The seeds are used especially in the production of bread and rolls, frequently also on the surface of baked goods as decoration. However, sweet baked goods such as apple-nut cake can also be enhanced with pumpkin seeds. They taste nutty, and the aroma is more intensive when the seeds are roasted in a dry pan prior to use.

They can be strewn over salads, soups or casseroles and they taste good with vegetable dishes, in risotto or in a pesto. Pumpkin seeds are frequently also contained in muesli mixtures.

Particularly in the Balkan countries and the Mediterranean area, the unshelled seeds are popular as a snack, roasted and salted.

Edible oil is also extracted from pumpkin seeds. Cold-pressed oils are greenish, have a slightly nutty aroma and are well-suited for marinating. Hot-pressed oil has a dark-green-brownish colour and an intensive nutty scent. Dark pumpkin seed oil is used especially in Austria and Hungary as a seasoning oil, for instance, in salads, dips, sauces or mashed potatoes, or in other dishes in place of pumpkin seeds themselves. However, it must not be overheated.


Miscellaneous


Pumpkin seeds are used in naturopathy to treat urinary incontinence and prostate disorders.

The best seeds for the extraction of edible oil are those of the variety Cucurbita pepo L. convar citrullinina var. styriaca, the so-called Styrian oil gourd. It has soft-shelled seeds that are also known as seeds without shells.

 

 

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