Parts of a Pumpkin
The Fall brings an abundance of pumpkins and other gourds. They are used for many things, like, carving for Halloween, and other decorations, roasting, baking, and other uses. They may seem like a common, average fruit, but they are actually complex and have a varied family.
The first interesting fact is that they are, in fact, a fruit, not a vegetable. They belong to the same family as cucumbers and watermelons. We often cut them up for cooking or making a Halloween decoration, but we don’t pay much attention to what the parts are.
Pumpkins are grown around the world, and in ideal conditions will mature in about three to four months. They grow above ground attached to a vine. The vine sends them nutrients as they grow.
Once picked, they can remain intact for another two months. However, if they are carved for Halloween, they will start to rot much faster when exposed to the open air.
Depending on the type of pumpkin, the vine may sprout several pumpkins on one vine. They can reach up to 30 feet long and they have roots that go deep into the ground. The root draws nutrients and water out to feed the pumpkins.
The very top of the pumpkin has a stem growing out of it. These are green while the pumpkins are growing, and attached to the vine. As the fruit matures, they turn a darker green, then brown.
They can be rather curvy and interesting looking. People have been known to dry them out, paint them, add them to artwork, and use them to fashion all sorts of jewelry, tools, and various types of handles from them.
The tendrils are long curly, hair-like extensions that grow on the top of the pumpkin. Pumpkins are also green while the plant is growing. They reach out and wind themselves around fence posts, trees, latticework, and even other plants.
They also help support the pumpkin while it is growing. The tendrils grow in accordance with the weight of the pumpkin and can hold it up to make sure it doesn’t fall over and snap off the vine before it is ripe.
The leaves grow along the vine. They absorb sunlight and help to feed the pumpkin as it grows. They also provide protection to the vine and even the soil where the vine is based.
If the leaves are drying out or wilted, it is a sign the pumpkin needs water. People also eat the leaves as they are rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium, vitamins A, K, and folate.
These leaves are used around the world for their health benefits. They are eaten in various ways, added to stews, soups, and sauces, used raw in salads, steamed, or any way you like.
Blooming flowers on the vine are good news. The flowers can be bright orange or yellow and they are there to help pollinate and provide nutrients to the plant.
The male flowers will appear first and they open up most often in a star-shape. They can be quite big and pretty. They will attract bees who will pollinate the flowers.
The female flower comes after the males and can be identified by the bulb-like protrusion at the bottom or base of the flower. The female flower will have softer, rounded petals when in bloom. The flowers are also edible and used for food and decorative purposes.
Pumpkin Shell, Skin, and Ribs
The shell is the whole of the outer pumpkin. It is usually referred to as the shell without everything else, like the insides and the vine, and all the bits mentioned previously.
The thin, shiny, orange outer layer of a pumpkin is called the skin. It is sometimes called the rind or shell. It is a protective layer, which keeps insects and disease out of the fruit.
People are often very creative when it comes to the outer layer or the skin. It is used for making chips, and other snacks, and also used in natural beauty products and treatments.
The ribs are the very visible ridges that run from top to bottom of the pumpkin. They can be very deep or almost non-existent. They can vary depending on the type of pumpkin and even the growing conditions.
The pulp is the main, wet insides that you scoop out when carving a pumpkin. Also called the meat of the pumpkin, this is the most popular part of the pumpkin.
It is used for hundreds of ideas, from hummus to dessert, and beer to pumpkin pie. It is very tasty, low in calories, and adds a nice texture to many baked items, soups, and it is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The pulp is also used in flavoring for ice cream, coffee, candy, and many more treats. It can be eaten raw, and even used as a face mask and in other beauty products.
The pumpkin has hundreds of seeds mixed in with the pulp. They are quite large so easier to separate when cleaning out the pumpkin. They can be saved and sprouted next year for the next batch.
Pumpkin seeds are also a very popular and nutritious snack. They are easy to remove and then rinse and roast in the oven.
They have magnesium, antioxidants, they are high in fiber, plus many other heart health benefits. The nut inside the seeds is what is desired, but the shells are used in many products and foods, as well.
Pumpkin Spice Muffins Recipe
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
- 2½ c. sugar
- 2/3 c. vegetable oil
- 2/3 c. water
- 4 large eggs
- 15- oz. can pure pumpkin
- 3½ c. all-purpose flour
- 2 t. baking soda
- 1 t. salt
- 1½ t. ground cinnamon
- 1 t. ground nutmeg
- ½ t. ground cloves
- ½ t. ground ginger
- ½ c. coarse decorating sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with 12 regular-sized cupcake liners. Set aside.
- Combine sugar, oil, water, eggs, and pumpkin puree in a large mixing bowl and beat on low for 1 minute. (You can also beat by hand, if preferred). Do not over mix.
- Add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger to a small bowl and stir to combine. Add dry mixture to pumpkin batter and beat on low (or stir by hand) just until all ingredients are blended into the batter. Do not over mix.
- With a large spoon, fill cupcake liners with batter until they are ¾ full. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and sprinkle each muffin with coarse decorating sugar and return to oven to finish baking