Pumpkin seeds are small, but very healthy. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals, while the green pumpkin seeds are also simply delicious. You can make pumpkin seeds extra tasty by roasting them in the frying pan. Add a little oil, and you’re ready to cheer up even the dullest dish.
Pumpkin seeds are the edible seeds of the pumpkin. They are also known as ‘pepita’ – a Mexican-Spanish term (pepita de calabaza = little seed of squash). Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes squash, cantaloupes, cucumbers, watermelons, and gourds. The pumpkin is undoubtedly American in origin. Fragments of stems, seeds, and fruits of C. pepo and C. moschata have been identified and recovered from the cliff dweller ruins of the southwestern United States. It is believed that C. moschata originated in the Mexican-Central American region and that C. maxima originated in northwestern South America.
The earliest known evidence of the domestication dates back 8,000–10,000 years ago, predating the domestication of other crops such as maize and common beans in the region by about 4,000 years. The process to develop the agricultural knowledge of crop domestication took place over 5,000–6,500 years in Mesoamerica.
Unlike the hard-white pumpkin seeds of a pumpkin, most supermarket pumpkin seeds have no skin. The seeds are typically flat and asymmetrically oval, have a white outer husk, and are light green in color after the husk is removed. Some cultivars are huskless, and are grown only for their edible seed which are nutrient- and calorie-rich, with especially high content of fat (particularly linoleic acid and oleic acid), protein, dietary fiber, and numerous micronutrients.
Pumpkin seed can refer either to the hulled kernel or unhulled whole seed, and most commonly refers to the roasted end product used as a snack.
Plants can be annual or perennial vines and grow best under warm and moist conditions similar to their native semi-tropical to tropical climates. Both male and female flowers are produced on each plant and fruit shape, size, and appearance are quite variable, ranging from smooth and small (under 3 pounds) to ribbed and quite large (more than 90 pounds).
Pumpkins are hand-harvested at their mature stage, color (orange or white), and size. Because fruit are pollinated at different times, multiple harvests over the field are quite common. Grading pumpkins for size, maturity, and pest damage before marketing is necessary to ensure a high-quality product. Maintaining pumpkin fruit in a dry, cool environment (a barn, for example) will help extend the shelf life of the crop and help maintain a non-shrunken fruit appearance.
Pumpkin seeds are small, but full of nutrients. A small portion provides a substantial amount of fats, magnesium and zinc. Because of this, pumpkin seeds have been associated with several health benefits. They are good for the heart, the prostate and offer protection in certain types of cancer. The seeds can easily be added to your diet.
They also contain a lot of antioxidants and a nice amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and folic acid. Pumpkin seeds and oil contain many other nutrients that provide health benefits. Diets with many pumpkin seeds have been associated with lower values of gastric, breast, lung, prostate and intestinal cancer. They are a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can promote sleep.
The oil of pumpkin seeds, a culinary specialty in and important export commodity of Central Europe, is used in cuisine as a salad and cooking oil.