Pumpkin was known to the American Indians five thousand years ago – in North America, this amazing vegetable grew by itself, like a wild plant. In the 15th century, pumpkin was finally brought to Europe and immediately fell in love with peasants for its unpretentiousness, high yield, long shelf life, pleasant taste and useful properties. Now the pumpkin has spread across all continents, and is not grown only in Antarctica, and the variety of varieties and methods of preparation have turned the pumpkin into the queen of our table.
How to choose the best pumpkin?
It is believed that the most delicious pumpkins are small ones, which weigh no more than 5 kg, and giant specimens are most often not very juicy and aromatic. The flesh of large pumpkins is usually too dry, or watery, and their taste is dominated by bitter shades.
The skin of the pumpkin should be firm, but not wooden, without damage, and if pressing on the skin leaves a dent or the skin can be easily pierced with a fingernail, the pumpkin is considered unripe.
The tail of a ripe pumpkin has a dark color and easily falls off by itself, and if you notice that it is neatly cut, it means that the pumpkin was picked ahead of time, which may affect its taste. Ripe pumpkin has a rich bright hue, and clicking on it gives a sonorous sound. In addition, the seeds of a mature vegetable are thick and large – they are easily separated from the pulp and have a pleasant taste. However, if you bought an unripe pumpkin, do not be upset, as it will ripen easily at home during storage.
There are winter and summer pumpkin varieties. Winter ripe varieties are characterized by thick skin and firm flesh, so they are more suitable for making fillings for pies or for baking in the oven. Summer young pumpkins, tender, juicy and softer, are intended for boiling, frying and stewing, and some sweet pumpkin varieties are recommended to be consumed without heat treatment in vegetable and fruit salads.
Pumpkin goes well with all products – meat, eggs, vegetables, cereals, cheese and fruits, and because of its mild taste, it can be complemented by more pungent notes – lemon, garlic, horseradish, pepper, any spices and aromatic herbs.
Many healthy and tasty dishes are prepared from pumpkin – salads, soups, vegetable stews, porridge with pumpkin, casseroles, pies, manti, ravioli, pancakes, pancakes and pumpkin juice. All dishes are good, but pumpkin baked in the oven reveals its taste most vividly and fully. Pumpkin seeds added to salads and baked goods add spice and a pleasant nutty flavor to dishes; they are used to prepare a healthy oil that can be used to season salads.
How to preserve pumpkin
If you want to extend the “life” of the pumpkin and cook delicious dishes from it until spring, store it on the shelves on the glassed-in loggia, making sure that the pumpkins do not touch each other, and wrap them up with a cloth. The fact is that exposure to direct sunlight can ruin the pumpkin, and it will not even last until the New Year. When it gets cold, you need to increase your vigilance by covering the crop with a warm blanket – the main thing is that the temperature on the loggia does not fall below 3 degrees and does not rise above 15. This is the ideal temperature for storing the queen of autumn, and if you manage to create such comfortable conditions for the pumpkin at home, then a pantry, a kitchen, and a place under the bed are suitable for this purpose. The main thing is to be cool, dry and dark!
Delicious, nutritious and cheap pumpkin was a favorite delicacy of Russian peasants, and the nobles did not disdain pumpkin dishes. Now it is difficult to imagine autumn meals without a pumpkin, and this vegetable crop, harvested for future use, can delight us all year round, reminding us of summer, sun and warmth …