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Pumpkin leaf: the nutritional value and use

  1. Not only the fruit of the pumpkin plant can be eaten, but almost the entire plant. Besides the fruit, the seed, flower, stem and leaf are edible and also very nutritious. In the year 2020, pumpkin and seeds are increasingly used as a food source in the Netherlands, but the rest of the plant is not yet. In Mexico, for example, the pumpkin flower is widely eaten and in African and Asian countries the leaves of the pumpkin plant are widely used in various dishes. The leaves of the pumpkin are high in nutritional value, are rich in fiber and protein and contain large amounts of vitamins and minerals.

The pumpkin plant

  1. Pumpkins are members of the cucumber family (Cucurbitaceae), a large family that includes gherkins, cucumbers and melons. The pumpkin plant is an annual creeping plant. The fruits of the plant (the pumpkin) can become very large and the leaves of this plant are also very large. There are many types of pumpkins, some edible and some not, with wide variations in shape, color and flavor.

Pumpkin varieties

  1. In the Netherlands, the main pumpkin varieties are: the Cucurbita maschata (butternut squash), Cucurbita maxima (giant pumpkin), Cucubita pepo (which includes the spaghetti squash and also the zucchini). The pulp of the pumpkin can be used in soups or stews, baked in pieces in the oven or in a savory pie. The various edible varieties are cultivated worldwide. Not only the fruit but also the seeds, flowers, stem and leaves of the pumpkin plant are edible.

Pumpkin seeds

  1. The seeds of the pumpkin contain many good nutrients and are also very tasty when roasted. Pumpkin seeds contain a lot of oil and are therefore very suitable for pressing oil. Cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil contains many important nutrients and has a nutty flavor.

Pumpkin flowers

  1. The flowers of the pumpkin plant are also edible and usually have a yellow color. Each plant has male and female flowers, so that the male flower can pollinate the female flower via insects. The male pumpkin flower can be recognized by its longer stem and the female flower has a small spherical shape at the bottom from which the pumpkin will develop. So it is better to use the male flower so that the pumpkin is not lost. In the southern states of the United States and Mexico, these flowers, among other things, are used as a food source. They fill it with vegetables or minced meat or put the flour through a batter and then deep-fry it.

Pumpkin Leaf

  1. The pumpkin plant has very large leaves, about 20 by 30 centimeters and usually dark green in color. Of the edible pumpkin varieties, the leaf is also edible and popular as a vegetable in certain African and Asian countries such as Kenya, Zambia, Korea and Malaysia. The younger and smaller blade is used here, it is softer and also contains less hair. The flavor of the leaves is a mix of green beans, asparagus, broccoli and spinach. The flour is added to soups, sauces and stews, among other things. In Europe in 2020 only in Italy (Sicily) pumpkin leaf is regularly eaten by adding the leaf to pasta.

Using pumpkin leaves

  1. Pumpkin leaves / Source: Lentchok, Pixabay

The nutritional value of pumpkin leaves

  1. The nutritional value of pumpkin leaves is comparable to other leafy vegetables such as spinach. The leaf contains hardly any fat and few carbohydrates, but large amounts of vegetable proteins and fibers. Furthermore, the leaf contains almost all important vitamins including vitamins B and E and the minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese and ample amounts:

Where is pumpkin leaves available?

  1. In 2020 pumpkin leaf is not yet available in the supermarket as a leaf vegetable. One possibility is to grow the versatile plant yourself. The seeds for various pumpkins are available at most garden centers, among others. In the Netherlands, pumpkin seed can be placed directly in the garden from May / June or first pre-planted in a small pot. The plant likes heat, lots of sunlight and water, but does not tolerate wet feet, so the soil must be well-drained. The pumpkin can be harvested from September. In the meantime, the young leaves of the plant can be used as a vegetable.

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