Historical View of Pumpkin

                   (By Rabia Mazhar*, Dr. Farzana Siddique*, Mujahid Ali**, Amber Mazhar*)

(*Food Science and Nutrition, UOS; **Horticulture, UOS)

As we know that in our everyday life, vegetables are an important source in our daily meals. But no one of us thinks about that from where these vegetables come from? From where they were first grown.  There are many vegetables growing enormously in the world, but we only talk about the pumpkin. History tells important and interesting facts about vegetables. Following the history of Pumpkin is derived from different historical books. Prophit Muhammad (SAW) liked Kaddu (a kind of pumpkin). Pumpkin was first originated in Central America about 5500 B.C. this word pumpkin is derived from a Greek word “Pepon”. The oldest evidence about pumpkin was found in Mexico between 7000 and 5500 BC. Pumpkins are used as vegetable many years before it was also used as Jack-o-laterals’. If we talk about that Jack-o-lanterns that we came to know the tale of the “Sting Jack”. Stingy Jack was a very naughty person who always plays tricks with his friends, family, and all the people related to them. One day, the devil arrived, he got scared and climb up a tree. When the devil climbs up a tree, he gets down from the apple tree and makes crosses. around the tree trunk. Devil was entrapped in that tree and was not able to climb down. So Stingy Jack takes a promise from Devil Not to take away his life. So, Devil promises him, and Jack removes that crosses. Now the Devil went away without taking his life. After few years Jack died, as he spent a miserable life on Earth, so he was not allowed to enter in heaven. Now he was sent to Hell, and in hell, Devil was there. Devil fulfills his promise and does not allow the Jack to enter. At that time Devil gave an ember to Jack and Jack was having a turnip with him. Because it was his favorite, so he always kept one with him. So, when the devil gave him ember from hell, he hollows that turnip and put that ember into it. He starts roaming the Earth without any place to stay at. A turnip was small, so pumpkin was used to make Jack-o-lanterns. Pumpkins are heat-loving plants and they are not grown in a cool climate. Columbus was known to take pumpkin seeds to Europe, but as Europe is a cool place so pumpkin not grows there properly. If we talk about the early origins of pumpkins than we know that it belongs to “cucurbitaceous family”. In cucurbitaceous family cucumber, melons, squashes, gourds all were included. They all were considered as fruit, not vegetable. But in this family, the pumpkin was not considered as fruit. Pumpkin was considered as the vegetable because when we cook or bake, it is treated like a vegetable. We are fancy men, pumpkins are same as us, so it is said that every pumpkin in the field must pass through every point of pumpkin history.

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A pumpkin seed is also known as pepiter which is the edible seed of a pumpkin or other cultivars of squashes. The pumpkin seed is typically flat and asymmetrical oval. It is light green in color and it has a white outer hull. The seeds are nutrient-rich which have a high content of proteins, dietary fibers, and various other nutrients. Pumpkins are basically the warm season vegetables which are grown in much of the United States. Cultivated pumpkins were believed to be originated in North America. English named it pumpion or pompion, it is a term which dates to 1547. Now pumpkins are grown all over the world with Antarctica being the sole exception the pumpkins are for such a brief period, to display its all of its charming. Plastic models of pumpkins have been crafted in the form of candy containers for young ones. Whenever the pumpkins were grown its spacing and depth must be considered. Vining pumpkins require a minimum of 50 to 100 square feet per hill. Plants seeds are almost one inch deep. Pumpkins are harvested when they are deep solid color and their rind is hard. The earliest known evidence of the cucurbits dates back 8000-10000 years ago. The process to develop pumpkin is agricultural crop domestication, took place over 5000-6500 years in Mesoamerica. Pumpkin as an ingredient in mole dishes is very well known in Spanish as pipan. In Mexico, the pumpkin is used as a snack which is an artisan fashion is referred to as pepitoria. In, Greece, the pumpkins are lightly roasted, salted and then given an Italian descriptive name passatempo. The seeds of pumpkins were ones used as an anthelmintic in traditional medicine by indigenous people of North America to expel tapeworms and other if intestinal parasites. In the United States, it was considered as an antiparasitic until 1863. The seeds of the pumpkin are one of the most efficient vermifuges in the plant kingdom. These seeds are taken by children to whom stronger-action and toxic preparations are unsuitable. The seeds were used in Central America as a medicine for the treatment of nephritis and other urinary problems. There are certain varieties of pumpkins which were used as a tonic to an irritable bladder. It is said that pumpkins were cultivated from Northern Mexico to Argentina and Chile and has spread to Europe, Asia, and Western America. The craving of pumpkins into Jack-o-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that originated hundreds of year ago in Ireland.  Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on 31st October. The original Jack-o-lanterns were earned for turnips, potatoes or beets. The immigrants from different countries brought Jack-o-lanterns tradition with them to the United States. They soon found the pumpkins; a natural fruit of America make perfect Jack-o-lanterns. Pumpkins and squash seeds are an excellent source of tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid which helps to produce happy chemicals in the brain. Pumpkins are a versatile and important food worth celebrating. Each year, a multitude of pumpkin recipes pop up in cookbooks, culinary TV shows, and food blogs. I think 17th-century cooks would be proud of our modern kitchen ingenuity. “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it”, so when we are eating anything we must know its history that from where it is originated, how it was grown and how it is processed. Now leading producers of pumpkin are China, India, Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States.

Mujahid Ali

I am a PhD scholar in Institute of Horticultural Sciences, UAF and Visiting Lecturer in Horticulture Department in University of Sargodha.

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