I’ve mentioned pumpkin leaves a few times in my posts. Now that they are growing through bushes and trees higher than my house, they demand a story of their own! Also, yesterday, I discovered many of the stalks covered in what looks like white fluff and which turned out to be interesting little hoppy things. I looked them up and discovered they are moth bug nymphs. Their bodies are covered in a layer of white wax and they have curly tendrils (much like the pumpkins) coming off it. Fascinating. They are all clustered together and seem to be sucking the sap from the stalk as the leaves are turning brown and dry. I look forward to seeing what the bugs turn into. Anyway, my pumpkins are pretty rampant, so I don’t expect they’ll do too much damage.
It’s the Dargle Market on Sunday, so I expect Nobuhle will be bringing me bunches of bright pumpkin greens – imifino yezintanga – to sell on her behalf. They sold well last month. She has pumpkins trailing all down the banks next to her house, which is ideal. I have to keep cutting mine back, or I wouldn’t be able to get into my back door! I eat the young leaves and tendrils – the three or four small leaves at the ends of the vines. I prepare them by ‘stringing’ the stalks and veins – just pull from the cut edge – it is quite easy once you try. This ensures they are not bitter. I have forgotten to do this once and they tasted awful. I chop them up and then I steam them for about 5 or so minutes (quick cooking is best). Next I fry them in a little olive oil with tomatoes and garlic. Really tasty and sweet and filling.
I believe they make delicious soup, although I have never tried and I recently came across a Zimbabwean recipe which stirred peanut butter into the cooked leaves. I would imagine cooking with peanuts is a classic African recipe and I’m going to try it for supper tonight. Someone told me you can also add a little milk at the end of cooking and leave it to soak for a while. Obviously, a very versatile vegetable. How do you cook pumpkin leaves?
As I keep mentioning, I like plants that provide food over a long time – you can eat the leaves, the tiny new pumpkins, the flowers (yummy stuffed with feta and fried) and of course, the whole pumpkin when it is ready, and even the pumpkin seeds. I have never had much luck with making my own pumpkin seeds, I think it must be a particular variety which produces edible seeds – mine are just so tough and it is really hard to shell the kernels from the husks.
Pumpkin leaves are very nutritius and a good source of:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
Every garden should have a pumpkin wandering about. Even if you don’t get any big pumpkins, you will get masses of tasty greens. At the Dargle Local Market on April Fool’s Day, we are holding a competition to see which fool can grow the biggest and most beautiful pumpkin! I can’t wait to see what everyone brings.