The name pumpkin goes back hundreds of years. It originates from the Greek word for “large melon” which is “pepon.” Pepon was adopted by the French and became pompon.” The English then changed pompon to pumpion. American colonists finally changed pumpion into pumpkin, which then made its way back to England and thus onto Australia. Pumpkins are members of the Cucurbitaceae family along with zucchini, gourd, squash and cucumber. Technically a fruit, pumpkins have been in cultivation for more than 5000 years.
Pumpkins grow well across our region. There are three main varieties grown here, with one more sneaking in that we have to mention, if only because it looks so awesome….More on that below.
Japanese Pumpkins have an exceptional naturally sweet flavour. It is similar in texture and flavor to a combination of pumpkin and a sweet potato. The rind of the pumpkin is edible, although, some cooks may peel it to speed up the cooking process, or, to suit their personal taste preferences. Japanese pumpkins are commonly utilized in side dishes and soups, or, as a substitute for potato.
Butternut pumpkin is known outside Australia and New Zealand as Butternut squash. It has a sweet, nutty taste, yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. The fruit is prepared by removing the skin, stalk, and seeds, which are not usually eaten or cooked. However, the seeds are edible, either raw or roasted, and the skin is also edible and softens when roasted.
Jarrahdale pumpkins closely resembles the Queensland blue, but is grey and not as deeply ribbed. It cuts easily, and has orange, sweet-tasting flesh. The flesh is not as sweet as the Jap pumpkin which makes it an often better companion to rich roast meals.
Turks Turban – an unusual one that we sometimes see in store. Turks Turban is an heirloom, predating 1820. Although looking very different it is closely related to the butternut pumpkin. Colours vary, but are often mottled in shades of orange, green, and white. This pumpkin is used as both a vegetable and as an ornamental gourd.