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All About Pumpkin

There’s no denying how much we love autumn at Prahran Market – we’re simply spoilt for choice with great tasting, seasonal produce overflowing from aisle to aisle. But there’s one gourd that steals our heart at this time of year and that’s the humble pumpkin; in season from autumn to winter.

Did you know that pumpkin fragments from 7000 and 5500BC were found in Mexico? It’s believed that pumpkins originated in Central America over 7500 years ago, so they’ve been around a while!

The name pumpkin originates from the Greek word for ‘large melon’, which is ‘pepon’. The French turned ‘pepon’ into ‘pompon’, the English turned ‘pompon’ to ‘pumpion’ and then the Americans changed it to ‘pumpkin’.

It’s not surprising that pumpkins have been around a long time, because they are such a versatile fruit (yes, it’s a fruit, as they are grown on a vine) that can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Pumpkins really are a great all-rounder!

Nutritional Benefits of Pumpkins

Pumpkins are really good for you – they are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, fibre and magnesium while low in calories.

How to grow a pumpkin

If you want to grow a pumpkin, the best way is direct in the garden (don’t worry about pots) with some rich compost. Pumpkins don’t like the cold, so around December is the best time to plant them=. Pumpkins love space and privacy, so plant them in a nice sunny spot away from everything else.

Pumpkins are usually harvested in April, then cured in the sun for a few days. After this, the best way to store the pumpkins is in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. The longer the pumpkin is stored, the sweeter the taste. Once you are ready, remove the seeds and stringy pulp and store in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to cook or bake it.

Of course, if you want to enjoy pumpkin without having to go to the hassle of growing one, then head to our Harvest Hall Traders for the best fruit and vegetable market in Melbourne.

Types of Pumpkins in Australia

There are a number of different pumpkins grown in Australia, but here are some of the most common types you will find:

  1. Kent (JAP) Pumpkin
    • Small (1-3kg), round with green and yellow skin
    • Very sweet flavour compared to others – very versatile, but especially great for salads
  2. Queensland Blue Pumpkin
    • Large (2-5 kg), round and ribbed, with grey/bluish skin
    • Full flavoured – great for boiled or baked food like curries and scones.
  3. Gold Nugget Pumpkin
    • Small (a little over 1kg), round with golden yellow flesh
    • Starchy and sweet flavour – best roasted and great for stuffing
  4. Butternut Pumpkin
    • Long (up to 2 kgs), cylindrical with light orange flesh
    • Nutty and sweet flavour – perfect for soups, and sweet dishes
  5. Jarrahdale Pumpkin
    • Medium size (1-3 kg), round and ribbed with grey skin
    • Sweet flavour – good for soups and boiling  

One of the most common and delicious (and simple) ways to enjoy pumpkin is roasted. Scoop out the seeds, add some oil and salt and roast on a baking tray for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees. Eat as a side or add to your main dish. You can also roast the pumpkin seeds, which are delicious in a salad.

Pumpkin Recipes

There is an abundance of ways to incorporate pumpkin into desserts, soups and salads (just to name a few!). If you would like some pumpkin ideas to try at home, check out these recipes from our website:

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