Beginner’s Choice: The Pumpkin Story

A fruit or a vegetable

Have you ever asked yourself if the pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable, or if it should be served as a savoury dish or as a dessert? Some people might just think of it as a decorative item for Halloween.

I googled “pumpkin” and found that it’s a cultivar of winter squash. Then I had to google “cultivar”, and found out that a cultivar is “a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding”.

Pumpkin originated in Mexico and the United States, but it is now found in many cuisines, and served in many ways.

Pumpkin is often served in a Filipino vegetable dish called pinakbet Tagalog, although pumpkin itself is actually a fruit. You might ask: why is it a fruit? My simple understanding is that pumpkin is a fruit because it comes from a flower that has been fertilized, and that it has seeds.

A savoury dish or a dessert

Does it really matter whether pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable? It has appeared in many forms – from pumpkin soup to pumpkin dessert. For someone who is used to having pumpkin in a savoury vegetable dish, it may be disconcerting to have it as a sweet dessert for the first time.

Thais grow up eating pumpkin as a dessert, so they are used to thinking of it as a fruit. Pumpkin and coconut custard is a typical Thai dessert. It’s simple to make. (Mix an equal proportion of egg and coconut milk, add sugar and a pinch of salt. Pour the coconut custard mixture into a whole pumpkin, which has been cleaned and has had the seed removed, and steam until the pumpkin and the custard are cooked). An even simpler dessert is pumpkin (cut into match-stick size pieces) cooked in coconut milk and sugar.

Pumpkin and squash

Val’s pumpkin pie

Val is the inspiration for this week’s pumpkin story. She has been baking again – this time, American pumpkin pie (featured image).  “I tried making American pumpkin pie, since it’s after the autumn equinox and squashes are coming into season. Not the best for my first attempt, but I had fun trying out my perforated tart rings! I normally only bake pies or quiches in a traditional fluted pie pan, so it’s a lot more convenient to use the tart rings as I don’t have to parbake the crust with pie weights on top.” Val

Mashed pumpkin and potatoes

Christmas is not so far off. Just in case you are starting to plan your Christmas menu, you might want to try adding mashed pumpkin to mashed potatoes. Scoop the mashed pumpkin and potatoes into balls, sprinkle grated cheese on top and bake in the oven to melt the cheese. (Steamed pumpkin and potato taste better than boiled pumpkin and potato.)

Have a good weekend.

By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 1 October 2022

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