Pumpkin Seed Oil: A Medicinal Seasoning

Explains how and where pumpkin seed oil is made, and its medicinal purposes. Also details its use in cooking.

Pumpkin seed oil, also called Kuerbiskernoel, is derived from the Styrian pumpkin whose botanical name is known as Cucurbita Pepo Convarietas Citrullinina - Varietas Styriaca. Although these pumpkins originated in the southeast region of Austria, which is called Styria, they are now grown in other parts of the world including in Ontario, Canada. Styrian pumpkins are a special variety of pumpkin. These pumpkins have a yellow/green skin and yellow/orange flesh inside. Additionally, these pumpkins contain seeds that are dark green and that do not have an outer shell. Because Styrian pumpkin seeds do not have a shell, the seeds can be processed easily into pumpkin seed oil.

Pumpkin seed oil has been popular for years among natives of the Styrian region of Austria and those who live in the northern portion of Slovenia, Europe. Additionally, this oil is now gaining a reputation among chefs worldwide because of its highly nutritional benefits. For example, the seeds from this pumpkin type contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, D, E, and K, as well as many minerals including calcium and magnesium. The oil also contains over 60% of unsaturated fatty acid and is rich in vegetable protein. Recent medical research has also announced the health benefits provided by using pumpkin seed oil. These benefits include regulating cholesterol levels and aiding in the prevention and treatment of bladder and prostate problems.

Styrian pumpkins are ripened and harvested in the fall. To make pumpkin seed oil, the seeds are manually removed from the pumpkins. Approximately 2.5kg of pumpkin seeds are required to make one liter of pumpkin seed oil. Once the seeds have been removed from the pumpkins, they are washed and dried. The dried seeds are then roasted for a few minutes at a high temperature (approximately 140ºF). Once roasted, the seeds are pressed using high pressure. The result of this pressing is the production of a dark green/black oil. This oil is then bottled and packaged for use.

Pumpkin seed oil has an unusual flavor that is somewhat nutty. Because of this unusual flavor, if you are not used to using pumpkin seed oil it is recommended that you experiment with it first. For example, try finding recipes that contain the oil and test the results of its usage. Pumpkin seed oil is typically used as a salad dressing combined with apple cider vinegar and salt. Additionally, it can be used in cooking and baking as an ingredient in sauces, sausages, and cakes.

You can buy pumpkin seed oil in some grocery, specialty, and health food stores. You can also purchase it by mail or over the Internet. When purchasing pumpkin seed oil, make sure that the oil is made from 100% pumpkin seeds with no additives. Because of its thick consistency, occasionally some producers will add sunflower seed oil to the pumpkin seed oil in order to thin out the oil base. Combining the two oil types also allows manufacturers to produce a less expensive product. Therefore, make sure that you read the label placed on the sunflower seed oil bottle, or inquire to the supplier about the oil's contents, before purchasing any oil.

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