When the weather starts to cool and the leaves start to change, you can bet that pumpkin season is here. It’s around this time that you’ll start seeing pumpkin flavors everywhere, from pumpkin spice lattes and coffee creamers, to pies, lotions, candles—even potato chips! Keep reading for a quick history of this fabulous fruit (yes it is a fruit), plus our tips, tricks and favorite pumpkin recipes.
As American as Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkins are native to North America and are one of the oldest domesticated plants. Though we know them as “pumpkins” they are known scientifically as a variety of squash and belong to the gourd family alongside cucumber and melons. The word “pumpkin” developed over time from the Greek word “pepon” or “large melon.” And since pumpkins contain seeds, they are a fruit, putting them in the tomato-club of produce we all thought were vegetables until recently.
Jack Be Nimble
After pumpkin pies, the Jack-o'-lantern is the creation most closely associated with pumpkins. But believe it or not, Jack-o’lanterns did not start out as pumpkins. In 19th century Ireland they were carved from radishes and turnips to ward off “Stingy Jack,” the star of an Irish legend about a man doomed by Satan to roam the earth with a hollowed-out turnip lantern. Once the tradition came to North America, pumpkins were found to be much easier to carve and the Jack-o'-lanterns we know and love were born — much to Stingy Jack’s dismay.
One cup of canned pumpkin generally contains around only 80 calories, 7 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat, making it an incredibly nutritious superfood. Because of how easy they are to make sweet or savory, there are an infinite amount of ways you can pair a pumpkin drink or dish.