The Hokkaido pumpkin is pretty unknown for us still; however, it has had a steep increase in popularity during fall. Considering many of its amazing properties. So what are they? EAT SMARTER is here to tell you.
What you should know about Hokkaido pumpkin
Peak Season: You can find the first Hokkaido pumpkins in late August; however, its real season doesn’t start until September and lasts far into winter. Even after its season is over, you can find fresh Hokkaido pumpkin. This is because, if stored properly, Hokkaido pumpkins can last up to a year.
Origin: The pumpkin’s name comes from its home – an island in Japan. The islanders first bred this type of pumpkin in the late 19th century after Americans introduced the rice squash. Only in the last 20 years has the Hokkaido pumpkin also been cultivated in Europe and has since then become a highly popular vegetable during fall.
Special features: Weighing 1-2kg/2.2 -4.4 lbs., Hokkaido pumpkins are much smaller than most of their relatives and therefore ideal for smaller households. Additionally, Hokkaido pumpkin are easy and quick to prepare since the usually bright (and sometimes green) skin on the pumpkin can be eaten as well.
Taste: The Hokkaido pumpkin impressed many people with its slightly nutty, somewhat chestnuty flavor and its juicy, low-fiber pulp.
How healthy is actually Hokkaido pumpkin?
Compared to its relatives, the solid, tasty orange-red flesh of Hokkaido pumpkin is extremely nutrient dense. This is because it contains less water than other pumpkins. Like all other types of squash, Hokkaido pumpkin also stimulates kidney and bladder activity. Combined with its low-fat content, this makes it the ideal fall vegetable for those watching their figure.
Ingredients: The bright orange-red color from the abundance of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to vitamin A (important for good eyesight, skin and hair). 3.5 oz of Hokkaido pumpkin cover about 1/3 of the recommended daily intake of beta-carotene according to the NCI (National Cancer Institute). If you also eat the Hokkaido pumpkin’s skin you will get even more beta-carotene. In addition, Hokkaido pumpkin also has considerable amounts of vitamin B1, B2 and B6, vitamin C and E, folic acid, magnesium, iron and phosphorus.
|Nutritional values of Hokkaido pumpkin per 100 grams/3.5 oz|
|Carbohydrates||5.5 g/0.2 oz|
|Dietary Fiber||2.6g/ 0.09 oz|
Hokkaido pumpkin - good to know:
If you want to eat the skin with the pumpkin, make sure you wash it thoroughly.
Even better – buy organic Hokkaido pumpkin!
Shopping and kitchen tips for the Hokkaido Pumpkin
Shopping: Hokkaido pumpkin stays fresh for a long time. However, it can’t hurt to double check freshness before buying. To do this, simply tap it lightly with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow, it is ripe. Also make sure the skin is perfectly in tact – this will help the pumpkin last longer.
Storage: Store in a cool and dry place (for example, in the basement, in the pantry or in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator). If you want to store only part of the pumpkin, it will stay good for about 4 days in an airtight container. You can also cut it up and freeze the pumpkin.
Preparation: Although you can eat it with its skin; the skin can be pretty tough. It is best to cut the pumpkin up with a big, sharp knife. The seeds inside are easy to scrape out with a spoon. Then you can cut up the pumpkin into slices or cubes.
EAT SMARTER recommendations for the Hokkaido pumpkin:
If you shred the pumpkin, it will cook especially fast. This can be good for soups, purées, risotto or even pumpkin pies. You can also use the shredded pieces and eat them raw in a salad. Since the Hokkaido pumpkin is so easy to digest and also slightly sweet in taste, it can also be perfect for homemade baby food or for a kids meal of pumpkin and potato mash with sausage.
Preparation tips for Hokkaido pumpkin:
You can make almost anything with Hokkaido pumpkin: soup, purée, casserole, side dishes or vegetarian main dishes. The pumpkin tastes great boiled, baked, fried or braised. You can even bake a juicy bread with its pulp!
Fill It Up: A real eye-catcher is a filled Hokkaido pumpkin, for example, with a minced lamb stew, a turkey chili or go vegan with oriental spice couscous. Using the Hokkaido pumpkin as a soup bowl or salad bowl can be a great focal point in an fall dinner party, brunch or buffet table. If you want to do it, start by cutting off the top, removing the seeds and then after filling it, put the top back on.