For cucurbit vegetables, such as pumpkins, squash, gourds and zucchini, insect pollination is essential
. The first pumpkin flowers appear approximately 30 days after planting, and the bloom period can last 12 weeks. Pollen from the male flower must be carried to the stigma of the female flower by insects. (The photo above is a male flower.) Pumpkin pollen is relatively large and sticky, and bees are considered to be the best pumpkin pollinators
– the most frequent being honey bees, squash bees, bumblebees and solitary bees.
The health benefits of pumpkin are one of the reasons given by Starbucks and other coffee makers for recently adding real pumpkin, instead of pumpkin flavoring
, to their seasonal pumpkin spice latte recipes. For those in the know, PSL is shorthand at Starbucks for Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Pumpkins are a seasonal delicacy, with fresh pumpkins usually appearing in stores just once a year. Their appearance reminds us that Halloween and Thanksgiving (read: jack-o’-lanterns and pumpkin pie) are on the way!
Take advantage of pumpkin season to add more pumpkin to your diet. Pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene, a plant carotenoid that is converted to vitamin A in the body. Research suggests that vitamin A may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers
and protects against heart disease, as well as some degenerative aspects of aging. Pumpkin is also high in dietary fiber and low in calories.
Did You Know?
Approximately 90 to 95 percent of processed pumpkins
grown in the United States are grown in Illinois. Check out the University of Illinois Extension recipes below for making pumpkin puree and baking pumpkin seeds!
Now You’re Cooking!
While canned pumpkin is available year-round, nothing beats the fresh flavor of breads, soups and pies made with fresh pumpkin puree. It’s easier than you think – just cut, cook, peel and puree
. Puree can be frozen in one-cup quantities for easy use in recipes throughout the year. And don’t forget the pumpkin seeds
– another high-fiber, delicious snack food that’s easy to prepare.
The National Honey Board has a recipe for pumpkin honey bread
– a delicious way to celebrate bees’ many contributions! If you’ve made your own pumpkin puree, just substitute 1-3/4 cup of puree in the recipe for the 15-ounce can of solid-pack pumpkin.
For more recipes, check out Crop Science, a Division of Bayer on Pinterest