Hokkaido Pumpkin

Fall is the period of pumpkin harvest. Pumkins offer a wide range of possible uses in the kitchen and their big advantage is long-term storage. Nowadays, the Hokkaido Pumpkins are very popular for their pleasant sweet nutty taste.

Hokkaido Pumpkin Appearance and Origins 

Hokkaido Pumpkin is an annual plant with decumbent stems, family Cucurbitaceae. In the Czech Republic, people tend to spell the name with a single "k", but the correct name is the Hokkaido Pumpkin. This plant has been grown in the Far East since the time immemorial and nowadays it is largely grown in America. In our country, it also quickly came to its enthusiasts. The Hokkaido Pumpkin is a North-Japanese variety; in that region, it is known as "Chinese Pumpkin". There are two types of the Hokkaido Pumpkin. One is dark-orange colour and the other has light-green skin. Its fruits are round and they originally come from the Japanese island of Hokkaido where they grow in vulcanic soil. These pumpkins are rich in nutrients and minerals. 100 g Hokkaido pumpkin has the following nutritional values: calories: 37, carbohydrates: 8.8 g; fat: 0.23 g, water: 88.72; protein: 8.8 g; fibre: 1.6 g. Pumpkin is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, B and C. The more orange is the pumpkin, the more vitamin A it contains.

When shopping for a Hokkaido pumpkin, choose carefully. A ripe pumpkin should be firm and fully coloured, its skin should be hard and smooth. Unripe pumpkins do not have much taste; old pumpkins are too fibery and pale. 

Growing Hokkaido Pumpkin

When it comes to growing them, pumpkins generally do not have high requirements, even an inexperienced grower will have no trouble with them. They grow abundantly before our eyes, so to speak and therefore offer easily accessible rich and tasty harvest. Their seeds are large which makes them easy to plant. If you keep them on a plate with water over the night before planting, they will come up faster in your plant bed. You may pre-grow pumpkins as early as April on a window sill or in a greenhouse. Put 2 seeds into a plant pot, prepare rather sandy soil and keep it wet. Place the pot in a warm place. Young sprouts need plenty of light, but be careful about direct sunlight. Relocate the pre-grown seedlings into garden in the middle of May. Choose a warm and protected place for them. The recommended distance between the seedlings is at least 1 meter. Add fertilizer and compost into the pit and mulch the seedling on the top, e.g. with nettles and grass in order to provide enough moisture for it. During their growth, use 2-3 doses of nettle broth.

Storage

This pumpkin has excellent storage qualities; it will last until April next year when stored in a dry basement. The longer it is stored, the more vitamins and sugar it contains.

Cooking

The Hokkaido Pumpkin is suitable for many recipes. Its flesh has a rich sweet taste but it must not be overboiled - then it turns dry and scaly on your tongue. Before cooking, cut the pumpkin in halves and remove seeds and fibres using a spoon. This pumpkin may be cooked with its skin - it will become soft during the process. Hokkaido Pumpkin is suitable for soups, sauces, into stuffing, as a side dish instead of potatoes, you can grill it, prepare au gratin, make marmalades, cakes... virtually anything you come up with and have courage to try.

HOKKAIDO PUMPKIN RECIPES

  • Hokkaido Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients: 1 Hokkaido Pumpkin, 1 carrot (optional), 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsolive oil, salt, spice to taste (mace, curry, pepper, curcuma)

Preparation: Cut the pumpkin in halves and scoop out seeds, cut it into cubes. Use olive oil to lightly fry the chopped onion, add the carrot grated roughly and the pumpkin. Baste with water and stew for 15-20 minutes. Blend the mixture or just mash it; you may leave some pieces of pumpkin whole. Season with salt and spices, add garlic and simmer for a little longer. You may decorate the soup in the plate with fresh parsley or basil, roasted bread and a spoonful of cream if you like.

  • Polévka s rajčaty z dýně Hokaido

 

Ingredients: 1 Hokkaido pumpkin, 2-4 cloves garlic, the same amount of fresh ginger, curry, half of a fresh celery, 6 peeled tomatoes, 3 carrots, 1 l vegetable bouillon, olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh herbs to your taste

Preparation: Cut the pumpkin into halves and scoop out the seeds. Chop into tiny cubes. Fry finely chopped onion on oil, add curry, grated ginger and pressed garlic. Chop the vegetables into cubes and add pumpkin several minutes later. Add the bouillon and boil mildly for 30 minutes. Finally, season the soup, you may add fresh uncut herbs, e.g. parsley or basil, and serve. 

  • Hokaido jam 

Ingredients: 1 Hokkaido pumpkin, 2 cups sugar, 100 g fruits (either fresh, such as apples and pears, or dried, such as apricots, raisins or dried plums), 1 pack vanilla sugar, whole cinnamon

Preparation: Blend the boiled pumpkin in a blender, creating soft puree. Add 2 cups of sugar, vanilla sugar and chopped fruits. Boil the mixture for 20 minutes and keep stirring it with a wooden cooking spoon. Boil it mildly in order to prevent the jam catching to the bottom of the pot. Pour the hot mixture into glasses containing cinnamon sticks and close up the lids. 

  • Hokkaido Pumpkin Cake 

Ingredients: 2 cups grated Hokkaido pumpkin, (1 cup= ¼ lt), 3 eggs,1 cup very soft sugar, 1 cup oil or 250 g baking grease, 1 cup milk, 2.5 cups fine flour, 1 pack vanilla sugar, 1 pack baking powder, 1 tbs honey, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, nuts, raisins, dried fruits, chocolate topping

Preparation: Clean the pumpkin and grate it roughly. Beat the eggs with sugar and add oil or baking fat. Take the flour and add the vanilla sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon into it. Add the beaten eggs. Mix in the grated zucchini. If the dough is too thick, add some milk. We can also add chopped nuts, various seeds, raisins, dried fruits. Pour the dough into a greased and flour-sprinkled baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 175°C. After the cake cools off, pour chocolate topping over it and decorate. 


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