Pumpkins have been around for centuries. They are grown on every continent in the world, except for Antarctica (a bit too cold there!), and are enjoyed by millions of people around the world every year. Pumpkin and squash are often used interchangeably, however, the term pumpkin generally describes winter squash that is hard-skinned, hard-fleshed, mature fruit (yes, pumpkin is a fruit!).
There are many different pumpkin varieties out there, however, butternut and crown pumpkins are the most commonly found in New Zealand and the most recognisable. Butternuts have a lovely creamy beige skin and an elongated shape which is thicker at one end. Their rich orange flesh and sweet flavour make them perfect for roasting, not to mention their thin skin making them a lot easier to peel compared to other varieties. Crown, or grey, pumpkins are instantly recognisable by their blue/grey skin. The most common variety sold in New Zealand is Whangaparoa. Because of their hard skin, they keep well when stored in a cool dark place and are usually available all year round.
Pumpkins are a particularly good source of fibre, as well as a range of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A is the real star though. One cup of cooked pumpkin has a whopping 245 percent of your daily needs! Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of essential vitamins in minerals. They are super high in iron, manganese, and other key minerals; they also contain large amounts of Vitamin K and protein.
Store in a cool, dark, dry place. Once cut, scoop out the seeds, wrap the flesh in plastic film and refrigerate.
Bake, boil, steam, microwave, roast, stew, stuff.
Pumpkin and squash are interchangeable and can be used in similar recipes. Some varieties have very tough skins that are difficult to cut so can be cooked with the skin on and then the flesh can be removed.