The common pumpkin (Cucurbita) is native to the Americas, familiar to us today as the Halloween pumpkin and as the main ingredient of the North American dessert, pumpkin pie. It belongs to the cucumber (Cucurbitaceae) family and was one of the staple foods and medicinal plants of the Native Americans.
The fruits range from yellow to bright orange in colour and can grow very large and heavy - the current record being 766kg. There are many annual record-breaking attempts - from growing the largest to how fast one can carve a face into a pumpkin. (Can you beat 24 seconds?)
The edible flesh, encased in a tough outer shell, contains inner membrane and seeds, both of which are removed before preparing pumpkin dishes or carving Jack-o’-lanterns. The seeds are usually coated in a thin husk (although huskless varieties exist) and are extremely nutritious. In Mexico, they are called pepitas and used as a thickener and flavouring in foods.
Pumpkin seeds have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Native Americans treated male prostate gland, urinary tract and intestinal problems by eating pumpkin seeds, and the German and US pharmacopoeias have featured pumpkin seeds (Cucurbitae peponis semen) as treatment for human parasitic worms. Today, pumpkin seed oil is under investigation for use in the treatment of these conditions.
Pumpkin seeds have a strong, distinct and nutty flavour, and can be toasted or eaten as is once shelled. Organic pumpkin seed butter contains all of the seeds’ nutrition and it is a popular vegan food. Our organic pumpkin seed butter is natural and remains free of chemicals.
Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, magnesium, carotenoids and a good balance of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6.) They are also very high in vitamin E, which makes them suitable for use in cosmetics. Vitamin E is believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) properties.
Studies also suggest that topical application of pumpkin seed oil may decrease skin roughness, dryness and fine lines. The antioxidant action of vitamin E is also of great interest to manufacturers of cosmetics - antioxidants act as preservatives in the product, greatly increasing shelf life - but, most importantly, they also provide real benefits to the surface layers of our skin.
The constituents of pumpkin seeds may explain why the oil expressed from them has been traditionally popular for rough, dry, scarred or damaged skin.
We use the butter to smooth the skin of the hands in Handy Gurugu.