Een artikel over pompoenzaden.
Benaming, geschiedenis, soorten en gebruik.
(in het engels)

Did you ever wonder what the roots of the words pumpkin seeds are?
Some call them squash seeds, or pepitas, when shelled.

It may probably be not well known, but the word pumpkin is claimed to have originated from the Greek word “pepon”, which means melon.
The French changed the word into “pompon”, the British to “pumpion” and the American colonists finalized it to “pumpkin“.
Now, here is a good reason for one looking for pumpkin seeds to search first of all in Greece!
Oddly enough, the Greek -apart from their native word “spória”- also use the word of Latin origin “passatempo”, which means, “passing time” (eating pumpkin seeds.  :-) )

Unshelled pumpkinseeds

In a long-ago autumn I learned about pepitas or pumpkin seeds; the hard way.
They were on a list of ingredients in a recipe for healthy high-fiber muffins.
Along with raisins, bran and other heavy objects, the recipe called for a half a cup of pepitas, a foodstuff I had never before encountered.
Fortunately the recipe identified them as; hulled kernels of pumpkin seeds.

What could be easier?
The markets were overflowing with Halloween pumpkins, so it followed that they would also be overflowing with pumpkin seeds.
After an afternoon of searching I finally found pepitas in a one-ounce small bag in a specialty store that catered to exotic tastes.
They were plump and olive green, imported from Mexico and had a price tag that would have required a bank loan to cover.

Pumpkins, by contrast, were cheap, and each came with a generous supply of seeds just waiting to be extracted and hulled.
What could be easier?
Well for one thing cracking a crab claw with a paper plate.

Separating the seeds from the stringy core was laborious and left orange stains halfway up my forearms. After rinsing a batch of seeds and drying them in the oven, I carefully removed the hull of one and was disappointed to find a smaller and paler kernel than the packaged ones I had seen.
It was dry and had no flavor at all, except for a slight bitterness.
After calculating the time it would take to hull half a cup, I was compelled to surrender.
Sunflower seeds it seemed would be an adequate and cost-effective substitute.
Many years would pass and pepitas would become much more widely available before I would learn the lessons of that misadventure.

For starters pumpkins grown in our own gardens do not yield the best pepitas.
However you could always try a little batch if you are growing your own.
If they don`t taste good feed the ones that weren`t toasted yet to the birds.
They`ll like them.

The seeds in the supermarket or health store come from China, Greece or Mexico- (the most expensive), and they are not bitter at all- they have a delicious but subtle nutty flavor.
Cost isn`t an issue these days. No matter what the price, buying them is cheaper then mining them :-)

The labor intensity of hulling pepitas was no deterrent to the frugal natives of pre-Columbian North and Central America, who wasted little of the crops that sustained them.
The Aztecs converted pepitas in a sauce for fish and meat.

The Zunis of the American Southwest ground them into flour for bread.
Modern cooks have expanded the reigns of pepitas, stuffing tomatoes with them, tossing them into salads, grinding them into masa for tortillas, or combining them with hot peppers for a pesto.
They`ve been used forever in Latin cooking but for some reason you don`t see them much in other cuisines.

Pumpkin seed kernels or pepitas. Grown without shell. Or shelled.

Pepitas stand up well to cooking-they give a crunchy texture to all sorts of dishes, and their high oil content absorbs and complements adjacent flavors.
Latin Americans markets carry pepitas in many forms: shelled, unshelled, toasted, raw, salted and not. Health stores mostly just shelled and unshelled.

Once you`ve given pepitas a try, I guarantee you` l find that sunflower seeds could never be an adequate substitute.

De pitten zijn één brok gezondheid.
Ze bevatten veel ijzer, fosfor en vitB-complex en bestaan voor ongeveer 30% uit eiwit.
En ze zijn ook nog rijk aan onverzadigde vetzuren!

Pepitas of pompoenzaden vindt je in Nederland in de toko, in de reformwinkel en ook wel bij de Turkse kruidenier; of gewoon in de super om de hoek.
Zoek niet alleen naar groene pepitas! (omdat ze op de foto staan).
Vraag advies!
Toevallig had ik de laatste keren WEL groene pepitas; maar die waren meer grasgroen.
Pepitas met een creme/witte kleur bestaan ook.

Als je geluk hebt hoef je ze dus niet te pellen want tegenwoordig groeien ze zelfs zonder de buitenste schil.
Moet het nog wel, maak er dan maar een familieaangelegendheid van.
Het is nu tenslotte echt herfst!


21-09-2002 Cws
Pic update 2010