The secret of pumpkin which is the most majestic of fruits is concealed in its taste and in the contained healthful and healing minerals. Although it is the symbol of Halloween in America, pumpkin which has been consumed as a healing nutritional source for centuries, has been named as “heavenly food” in some regions of Anatolia.
The history of pumpkin dates back to ancient times. The first seed is said to have been found in Mexico in 5500 and 7000 BC, and that the motherland is the new continent. However, the history of pumpkin in Anatolia is old as well. The famous physician Galen of Pergamon, who lived 1800 years ago mentioned the healing properties of pumpkin in his books as revealed by many resources. Turkish physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna) also mentioned the healing properties of pumpkin.
Both inside and outside of the pumpkin were used in the past. The outside of the pumpkin was used only for manufacturing the utensils we define as pots and pans yet today it is also used for manufacturing decorative objects. Due to its rich content comprised of essential vitamins and its characteristic enabling storage without being spoiled in a cool environment for up to six months, pumpkin had been one of the most significant nutritional sources during the era when cooling systems did not exist. Even though pumpkin dessert with walnuts and peanuts comes to mind today when pumpkin is mentioned, various dishes are prepared using pumpkin. From this aspect, pumpkin is a highly favorable fruit to create new tastes and flavors. As in different parts of the world, pumpkin stuffed with molasse, pine nuts, almonds, various dried fruits, and honey is prepared in some villages of Anatolia and baked in an oven. Pumpkin is a fruit which is not wasted by any means as both its inside and outside crust can be consumed and used. Pumpkin is widely grown in many regions of our country. It is one of the indispensable tastes, especially for Sakarya province. The pumpkin grown in Sakarya is one of the best throughout Turkey. The soil of our region is so fertile that there are scarcely few fruits and vegetables that cannot be grown in our region. Pumpkins of the same size and growing corps as you may observe abroad can be grown within the boundaries of our country as well. One of the citizens living in our city had brought seeds from the United States back in 2014 and grew a pumpkin as big as the ones in those regions (450 kg) thus proved this assumption.
Let’s take a close look at the benefits and advantages of pumpkin in terms of health;
Pumpkin is rich in terms of minerals. Due to the fact that it contains iron, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium, it is an important source of food for human health. All of these features are important for bone health in children and elderly people. Doctors advise that pumpkin is consumed in plenty of amounts during winter days. Because it is a strong and efficient source of energy on cold winter days. It is the most significant and powerful protector of human health. It is especially recommended for cancer patients who are nowadays ever-increasing. Pumpkin consumption is preventive against Alzheimer disease and premature aging as well. It is recommended that even diabetics consume pumpkin. It also prevents anemia due to iron available inside. It is a food that should be abundantly consumed due to such benefits and advantages in terms of health.
• 12 leaves of baklava phyllo
• A water glass of melted butter
• A kg peeled pumpkin
• A water glass of ground crushed a walnut
• 2 dessert spoons of cinnamon
• A dessert spoon of vanilla
• A teacup of sugar
Syrup: 3 water glasses of sugar, 3 water glasses of water, ½ lemon juice
Preparation: Sugar and water have pored in the pot. Boiled for an additional 5 minutes after the water starts boiling. Lemon juice is added and boiled until it comes to a boil. The pumpkin is shredded and kept in a strainer for 2 hours. It is then filtered. Pumpkin is taken into a large container. Walnut, cinnamon, vanilla and a teacup of sugar are added and mixed. 6 baklava phyllo are spread between the melted butter and baked in the oven tray. On top of the baklava phyllo, pumpkin dough is spread. The remaining 6 phyllo are spread on the pumpkin dough and in between them, melted butter is spread. Butter is smeared on the last phyllo. Cut with a sharp knife and sliced. Baked in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius until the top is browned. The warm syrup is poured over the warm baklava. Leave to cool and serve.
• 5 pieces of phyllo pastry
• ½ kg pumpkin
• 1 ½ water glasses of sugar
• A water glass of milk
• A teacup of oil
• A water glass of powder sugar (optional)
Preparation: Shredded pumpkins are roasted with sugar for 10 min. on low heat. The prepared dough is placed on to a piece of phyllo pastry and it is rolled (wrapped like tray rolls). This is repeated for the remaining 4 pieces of phyllo pastry. A water glass of milk with a teacup of oil is mixed and applied on the pastry. Cook in a 180-degree oven for 30 minutes. Optional powdered sugar can be added on top of serving. Optional sweetening syrup can also be added.
Creamy Pumpkin Dessert
- 2 kg pumpkin
- 25 pieces of Burçak biscuit
- A tea cup of crushed walnut
- 2 water glass of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of pistachio
- 1 package of whipped cream
- A water glass of milk
Preparation: Pumpkin is peeled and sliced. 2 water glass of sugar is added and cooked until the pumpkin slices are smooth. Once the pumpkin slices are smooth, they are mashed. Pieces of biscuit are malled until they are like flour and along with crushed walnut they are added on to mashed pumpkin and thoroughly mixed. A large pyrex bowl is moistened and mashed pumpkin is poured in by pressing with a spoon. It is removed by reversing it into a flat and round serving plate. A water glass of milk is stirred up with whipped cream until it thickens. It is filled on the pumpkin dessert by using a whipped cream siphon. Served after leaving it in the refrigerator for a few hours with pistachios on it.
- 300 gr pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- A teaspoon of nutmeg
- Crushed walnut
- A teacup of milk
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 3 tablespoons of cream
- ¼ dill
- 2 water glasses of bouillon
Preparation: The outer crust is peeled and chopped into cubes, then the pumpkin cubes are washed. Approximately one liter of water is placed on and boiled. After the cooking process, it is pureed with a hand mixer. On the other hand, butter is added to a pot and flour is added and roasted on low heat. Cold milk and cold water are poured on and stirred quickly. Then the mashed pumpkin is added, when it starts to boil salt, cream, walnut is added. It is boiled on low heat. Soup is served in bowls with dill on them.
A type of carving art, which uses pumpkins as its prime material is called Pumpkin Carving. Also in Turkey, the works of pumpkin carving art are exhibited especially during pumpkin-related festivals. In the U.S. people carve magnificent figures on pumpkins from human and animal shapes to symbols of horror like zombies for Halloween. There are even studios dedicated to pumpkin carving.
By: Şef Nuri Atmaz
*This article was published in the March-April issue of Marmara Life.