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Interesting Facts about the Pumpkin

October 13, 2010

Pumpkin carving is a big Halloween tradition in America, but did you know it wasn’t the first vegetable to be carved for the holiday? Here are some interesting facts about the much-loved pumpkin.

Long before people began carving pumpkins, the Irish carved turnips and rutabagas, lit them with embers and used them to ward off evil spirits. It’s believed that this Celtic custom lead to our modern day pumpkin-carving tradition.

The reason for the change from rutabagas and turnips to pumpkins? Pumpkins are hollow are easier to carve. In Arizona, we have many farmers that grow and sell pumpkins and offer many pumpkin and harvest events for the Halloween season.

There are some people who think that the pumpkin should be our national fruit because it is believed to have been served at the first Thanksgiving feast with the pilgrims and the Indians back in 1620. Pumpkins were also at the first Independence Day celebration. The pumpkin is associated with autumn holidays as both an entrée or dessert dish as well as for decorations to grace holiday tables.

If pumpkins are on your menu, you should know they are rich in potassium and Vitamin A and they’re high in fiber.

Now for some pumpkin fun facts: Did you know…

  • Pumpkins are grown all around the world
  • A pumpkin is a squash? It’s in the same family as squash and cucumbers
  • Morton, Illinois, is the self-proclaimed pumpkin capital of the world.  In 2008 the state produced 496 million pounds of pumpkins
  • Pumpkin flowers are edible
  • The largest pumpkin pie ever made measured five feet in diameter and weighed more than 350 pounds
  • Pumpkins were believed to have removed freckles and cured snake bites
  • Pumpkins are 90 percent water
  • The largest pumpkin weighed 1,140 pounds
  • Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available for picking in October
  • The name “pumpkin” originated from the Greek word, “pepon,” which means, “large melon”
  • The original “pumpkin pie” was made by colonists when they cut off the pumpkin tops, removed the seeds and filled the insides with milk, honey and spices and baked in hot ashes.

If all of this pumpkin talk has you craving a pie or some bread or even some pumpkin soup check out some of our recipes on FillYourPlate.org.  You can also find local farmer’s markets that sell pumpkins on FillYourPlate.org too.

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