There is more than just “Hokkaido”. Pumpkins are incredibly diverse. We introduce you to the most popular. Is your new darling there?
The Bischofsmütze has a nutty taste and is suitable as a soup pumpkin. Foto: Ansebach (Shutterstock)
- Other names: Kardinalshut, Turbankürbis
- Taste: Nussig
- Particularly suitable for: Soups (due to its floury consistency), or as a decoration
- Specialty: difficult to peel, distinctive appearance
The bishop’s hat is often sorted with the decorative pumpkins. However, this is only partially true. Because even if its appearance is also an ornament, you can still prepare and eat it. Bitter substances have been greatly reduced through new breeding.
It is multi-colored and its shape (flat, with bulges in the middle) can be reminiscent of a bishop’s cap as well as a turban. The pulp is yellow-orange and its size can vary widely. He usually weighs between one and two kilograms.
It should be peeled before consumption. As with most pumpkins, the easiest way to do this is to cut it into several pieces and then remove the peel piece by piece.
It is often used in the kitchen for soups, but it is also often filled. Due to its thick shell, it remains stable when hollowed out, the previously removed lid can be put back on.
Tip for show-offs: Cut off the “lid”, remove the stones and pulp, cook soup from the pulp and serve in the hollowed out pumpkin.
A classic among the pumpkins: the butternut squash. Foto: Jamie Rogers (Shutterstock)
- Other names: Butternut squash, pear squash
- Taste: Fine butter aroma
- Use: baked, as a soup, in a cake. Shell should be removed
- Specialty: Lots of pulp and few stones
The butternut squash, also called butternut or pear squash, like the Hokkaido squash, is one of the very aromatic, tasty varieties. It also belongs to the musk gourd, just like the nutmeg gourd.
It has fewer pips and fibers, but all the more pulp. It is already available in very small versions weighing a few hundred grams, but versions weighing 2 kg are also available.
The skin is usually quite hard (depending on the size), the pumpkin should be peeled before consumption. An often recommended variant of peeling is cutting with a knife after cutting the fruit. The peel is easier to remove from smaller pumpkin pieces and you don’t slip off easily.
It is advisable to keep the kernels, they can also be eaten or used for own breeding from March in small pots in the house or in the apartment.
Most butternut squash on the market have a smooth skin. There are also specimens with knobs on the shell. This variety can also be stored well. It is also available all year round from countries such as Mexico and Guatemala. It owes its name “butternut” to its taste: it tastes slightly buttery and nut-like, which makes it a popular and increasingly popular pumpkin.
It is also one of the “winter squash” varieties, which are ripe in autumn and can be stored and consumed until winter.
It always makes a delicious meal, regardless of whether it is baked in wedges or further processed into soup and creams.
At 45 kcal / 100 g, its energy content is slightly higher than that of other pumpkins, although it is very low in fat.
The bottle gourd is rather unknown in our latitudes. Foto: Sunday Morning (Shutterstock)
- Other names: Kalebasse, Herkuleskeule, Trompetenkürbis, Jonaskürbis
- Taste: mild and nutty
- Use: prepared as vegetables, dried, for decoration, as a musical instrument, as a storage vessel, herbal medicine (Asia)
- Specialty: very low in calories (15 kcal per 100 g)
As with almost all pumpkin plants and species, the bottle gourd also has very different sizes and shapes. There are variations in size from a few centimeters in length up to 3 m. It often has a spherical bottle shape, from which its local name is derived.
In principle, a distinction is made between two subspecies, the African and American varieties and the Asian variant.
Unripe fruits can end up cooked as vegetables on the table, the flesh is sometimes cut into strips and used dried, especially in Japan.
Dishes can also be prepared from the seeds.
Large fruits are ideal for making vessels due to their impermeable peel, they are sometimes beautifully decorated. Also for making musical instruments (for example drums, rattles or plucked instruments). In Asia the bottle gourd is also used in herbal medicine.
Perhaps because of its diversity, it was voted Vegetable of the Year in 2002.
It prefers tropical and subtropical areas, but can also be grown in Europe. As with other varieties, it is possible to bring them forward in the apartment from April. However, bottle gourds need full sun to develop after exposure.
What distinguishes it from the other pumpkins is its low energy content (15 kcal / 100 g), the meat consists of approx. 93% water.
The Hokkaido pumpkin is very practical because the shell is edible. Foto: Sashanti17 (Shutterstock)
- Family: Maximum cucurbita
- Taste: slightly sweet, intensely nutty
- Use: baked, as a soup, in cake
- Specialty: Shell can be consumed with
Hokkaido pumpkins are one of the smaller members of their family. Nevertheless it belongs to the genus Cucurbita maxima. Its bright orange color is striking and its weight varies from ½ kg to 2 kg. However, there are also Hokkaido pumpkins with blue color, they do not differ in taste.
With these pumpkins, the skin, which is very thin, can be consumed, which relieves the laborious peeling – it becomes soft when cooked. The kernels and the fibrous inner part should be removed beforehand, however, the kernels are very tasty when toasted.
Hokkaido is the name of an island in Japan, but pumpkins were only introduced there from Europe in the 16th century. Today’s variety, which we know here as the Hokkaido pumpkin, is called “Uchiki kuri” in Japan.
The meat of the Hokkaido pumpkins is aromatic and nut-like, it is ideal for baking and cooking.
They can be adjusted relatively easily. As early as March, the kernels are placed in small pots and the plants are preferred to be taken outdoors after the last frost in spring.
The harvest then takes place in autumn. Like other pumpkins, they can be stored dry for a relatively long time (up to several months), at least if the pumpkin stem has remained intact.
Hokkaido pumpkins are one of the so-called “winter squash” varieties that are ripe in autumn and can be harvested.
With 25 kcal / 100 g, this pumpkin is one of the pleasingly low-calorie foods and one of the most nutritious types of pumpkin. It also has a high proportion of starch. With its beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin B6 contents, it also outperforms other pumpkins.
When cooking, many substances (such as protein, fiber, fat and minerals) are retained, provided that the cooking liquid (the liquid in which the pumpkin was prepared) is used in the further preparation. Incidentally, this applies to all types of pumpkin and many other vegetables.
Big and tasty: the nutmeg squash is usually sold sliced. Photo: JL Pfeifer (Shutterstock)
- Art: Musk gourd
- Taste: sweetish, slightly like nutmeg
- Use: baked, as a soup, in desserts, as a porridge
- Specialty: can get very big
Although belonging to the musk gourd, like the butternut gourd, both differ greatly in appearance, use and taste. A nutmeg squash can grow very large (up to 50 kg, sometimes even more), so it is often offered in parts or slices rather than as a whole fruit.
Its wall has clear ribs, the color varies from greenish-orange – dark green to brown. If you have a dark green specimen in front of you, you know that it is still immature.
Despite its size, it has relatively few seeds, which leaves more space for the pulp. It is also grown year-round in South America, but imported from France and Greece.
The pulp itself can vary in color from yellow to strong orange, has a sweet taste and is supposed to be reminiscent of nutmeg (from which it gets its name).
Its meat is also popular in soups, creams, cakes or steamed and baked.
Low-carb pasta with a difference: with cooked spaghetti squash. Foto: Darzel (Shutterstock)
- Taste: nut-like
- Use: cooked (whole, then with punctures in the peel, or in 2 halves), the pulp then disintegrates into a spaghetti-like shape
- Origin: Japan
The spaghetti pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo), which is one of the garden pumpkins, owes its name to its pulp. Already raw, but even more when cooked, it resembles long, round noodles.
The pumpkin shape is simply oval, the color of the skin is light orange – yellow, often with greenish-brown vertical stripes. It is not particularly big, its weight is usually up to 2 or 3 kg, so, unlike a nutmeg pumpkin, it can be taken whole.
It is recommended that you either cook the pumpkin completely (but first poke a few holes through the shell with a fork), or cut it in half and then boil it. The stem end is removed before cooking.
When it is done (approx. 20 – 40 minutes depending on the size), the pulp can be carefully removed (the “noodles” disintegrate easily) with a spoon and scraped out. In fact, they are very similar to spaghetti and can be used like it. A delicious sauce and salad with it make a good, but energy-conscious lunch.
Because unlike its namesake, the spaghetti, these pumpkin noodles only have 32 kcal / 100 g, a big difference. They are also low in fat and, like other pumpkins, consist of over 90% water.
Certainly a recommended alternative as a change on the lunch table!
Yellow and red hundredweight
The hundredweight squash is best known as the Halloween squash. Foto: Loreen Masseth (Shutterstock)
- Alternate name: Giant pumpkin
- Use: Pickling the pulp, soups, also suitable for carving as a Halloween pumpkin
- Taste: mild, sometimes watery
The German or yellow hundredweight got its name from its weight. With up to 50 kg and a yellow-orange ribbed exterior, it is hard to miss. It is one of the giant pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima).
Its pulp is very mild and is often used for desserts, purees and jams.
However, compared to other pumpkin varieties, its shelf life is shorter at around 2 months. It is harvested from August to October.
Due to its size, it is a typical “Halloween pumpkin”, after removing the lid and the pulp, its bowl can also be lavishly decorated and carved, depending on your wishes and template.
A close relative is the red hundredweight, it is grown more often in private gardens, as its usual weight is closer to 20 kg. The name suggests that its exterior is red or red-orange in color. It is used similarly to the yellow hundredweight.
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Cover picture: Diana (Shutterstock)