Traditional Foods

Pumpkin

Pumpkins were grown by Native Americans long before Europeans arrived. Native Americans dried strips of pumpkin and wove them into mats. They also roasted long strips of pumpkin on the open fire and ate them. European colonists survived the winter of 1620-1621 because the Wampanoag, Massachuset and other Tribes taught them to plant Indian corn, pumpkins, beans and squash. Today many trail mixes are made with Native American foods like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pecans and dried fruit.

About

Choose pumpkins that are heavy, free of cracks and soft spots with a deep orange color.

One medium 5-pound pumpkin makes about 4 ½ cups of cooked pumpkin.

Pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene, an important antioxidant. Eating foods with beta-carotene can help prevent some types of cancer and heart disease. Tomatoes even have some nutrients that protect us from aging.

Storage

Store whole, damage free pumpkins in a cool, dry place.

If stored properly, whole pumpkins can be stored for three to six months.

Preparation

Wash pumpkins under running water. Use a long, sharp knife to cut into chunks. Scoop out the stringy insides and seeds. Put the seeds aside and dry for roasting later. Pumpkin may be cooked in boiling water, the microwave, baked or roasted in the oven or steamed in a pressure cooker.

Adapted from University of Illinois. Pumpkin History. Available at https://web.extension.illinois.edu/pumpkins/history.cfm, Weatherford, Jack. Native Roots (p. 112). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition, https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/resources/pdfs/hni29_pumpkins.pdf and https://web.extension.illinois.edu/pumpkins/nutrition.cfm.

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