Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil - Healthy and Tasty

Monday, 07. September 2015

Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil - Healthy and Tasty

Pumpkin seed oil has become indispensable in Styrian cuisine. Meanwhile, it is also widely popular outside of Austria. The healthy ingredients and the outstanding taste of this extraordinary specialty make it an extremely popular oil.

The green gold of Styria, the pumpkin seed oil, has earned an international reputation for quality over the last few years. Pumpkin seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the Styrian oil pumpkin. This special pumpkin has no woody seed coat. The seeds are surrounded only by a fine silver skin, which is responsible for the characteristic color. This pumpkin has been specially bred for its properties.

The Story of Pumpkin Seed Oil

The first written evidence of the production of pumpkin seed oil dates back to 1735. At that time, the Styrian oil pumpkin did not exist without a seed coat. The oil was so precious that it could only be used by pharmacies for the preparation of medicine.

In 1773, pumpkin seed oil was even banned for use as a cooking oil because it was too valuable.

Once farmers successfully bread a pumpkin without a woody seed coat, this variety spread throughout Styria. Within a decade, the pumpkins were extremely popular. For a long time thereafter, the oil was pressed only for consumption by individual farmers. In the 1970s, it was not known outside of the Styria. From the eighties on, that changed, and today pumpkin seed oil is known and appreciated in many countries.

In addition to its characteristic dark green color, pumpkin seed oil also has a distinctive nutty taste. Through many valuable ingredients, such as the minerals zinc, selenium and potassium and the vitamins A, C, D, and several of the B group vitamins, the oil is very healthy. What's more, that it consists of 80 percent unsaturated fatty acids, and it has an antioxidant effect.

Pumpkin seed oil should help to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and also helps in bladder and prostate conditions.

Production

The pumpkin harvest takes place in autumn. Here the cores of the pumpkin seeds are separated from the pulp. Mostly this is done nowadays by machines,  but smaller scale farmers, still clean the seeds by hand. After washing and drying, the cores are storable. This separates the pumpkin seed oil from many other oil, as fruit like olives cannot be stored for long and must be pressed immediately. 

After the oil is pressed, the seeds are ground and mixed with water and salt. This slurry is gently roasted until the water evaporates. The remaining mass of the oil cake is now pressed. Earlier it was hard work. The "Styrian Ölkuh" press that was used was a massive wooden device. Seeds were placed between two wedges and hammered down to release their oil. Due to the fact that this work was so labor intensive, hydraulic presses have been used since the 19th Century. About 2.5 kilos of pumpkin seeds are required for one liter of oil. Between 30 and 35 pumpkins are needed for this quantity of seeds.

Use

The oil is classically used as a salad dressing in Austria. However, it is also used for decorating and flavoring appetizers, main courses and even desserts.

The pumpkin seeds themselves are very often used as decorations, crusts or ingredients in brittles.

There is only one restriction in using this oil: pumpkin seed oil should not be heated. Therefore, it is not used for cooking and frying, but should be added after cooking. 

A Few Recipes:

Pumpkin Seed Oil Marinade

You need:

200 ml pumpkin seed oil

100 ml balsamic vinegar

300 ml stock (vegetable or beef broth)

½ tsp mustard

½ tsp salt

1 pinch of sugar

1 pinch of pepper (freshly ground)

Stir the spices into lukewarm broth, then stir in the vinegar and oil with a whisk. Add more spices to taste. The marinade can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Always stir before using, because the oil settles.

Excellent for salads of all kinds.

Scrambled Eggs with Pumpkin Seed Oil

Take for 1 serving:

3 eggs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tbsp pumpkin seed oil

Salt and pepper

Crack and beat the eggs. Add salt. Then heat the vegetable oil in a pan, and stir in the eggs. Scramble.

Sprinkle the scrambled eggs with pumpkin seed oil and add pepper to taste.

Pumpkinseed Dumplings

Take for 6 servings:

For the dough:

150 g wheat semolina

350ml milk

30g butter

1 tablespoon sugar

½ vanilla pod

1 lemon (untreated, zest)

1 egg

1 egg yolk

Salt

For the filling:

100 g marzipan

50 g pumpkin seeds (roasted and ground)

30ml Amaretto

For the breadcrumbs:

200g butter

100 g pumpkin seeds (roasted and ground)

50g breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon vanilla sugar

Cinnamon

Melt the butter in a pan, and add the wheat semolina. Boil the milk with salt, sugar and the pith of the vanilla bean. Add the lemon zest, then strain and pour over the semolina butter mixture. Stir until the mass comes away from the edges of the pan and allow to cool shortly. Then stir in the egg and egg yolk.

For the filling, mix the marzipan, the pumpkin seeds and the Amaretto and form 1 cm balls. Let cool.

Shape the semolina mixture into small balls, flatten and fill it with the pumpkin seed marzipan. Shape into dumplings and cook for 10 minutes in simmering salted water (water shouldn't be boiling at this point).

Heat the butter in a pan. Add pumpkin seeds, crumbs, vanilla sugar and cinnamon then mix and fry crisp.

Drain the dumplings and roll them in the breadcrumbs.