Difference Between Pumpkin and Squash

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Difference Between Pumpkin and Squash

Pumpkin and squash are both gourd family members and are botanically classified as Cucurbita pepo.

The two vegetables are similar in size, shape, color, and texture. The main difference between these two vegetables is their shape; the pumpkin is usually round, while the squash is oval.

Although different in shape, they both have so much in common. They both make for nutritious foods and are versatile ingredients that you can use in various dishes.

In addition, they both contain edible seeds, very high in fiber and low in calories.

How can one distinguish between these two with so much in common? Although they share so many similarities, there are some peculiar differences between pumpkin and squash.

These include:

Table of Contents

Taste

Pumpkin is generally sweeter than squash; however, some pumpkin varieties are bitterer than others. Some people find it easier to digest pumpkin than squash.

On the other hand, squash has a milder flavor than pumpkin, but its flesh tends to be firmer. It is usually cooked until tender before being mashed.

Liquidity

Pumpkin contains less water than squash, and this means that when you cook a pumpkin, you will need to add less liquid than if you were cooking squash.

For example, you would only need about 1/4 cup of water to cover 2 cups of cubed pumpkin. You could even substitute pumpkin for half of the potatoes in your favorite potato soup recipe.

Shelf life

Squash has a longer shelf life than pumpkins; pumpkins should last longer than squash if appropriately stored. If stored at room temperature, the pumpkin will keep for ten days.

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However, if you refrigerate it, you can expect to get five weeks out of a fresh pumpkin. On the other hand, squash keeps well in the refrigerator for three months.

Furthermore, the pumpkin loses moisture faster than squash during storage.

Price

Pumpkin is more expensive than squash. Although they are both relatively inexpensive, the price varies depending on where you buy them. Pumpkin prices tend to increase with time because demand increases.

While this vegetable is available year-round, it is most prevalent during the fall season, and because of this, it is often sold at premium prices.

Hardness

 Squash is more difficult to peel than pumpkin. The skin of the squash is thicker than that of the pumpkin, so you will need to cut through the skin using a knife or vegetable peeler. Once peeled, squash is ready to eat, and pumpkin requires peeling before eating.

Also, pumpkin seeds are much harder to remove from their shells than squash seeds.

Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are harder to prepare than squash seeds. To remove the seed from the pumpkin, you will first need to cut open the shell. Then, you will need to scrape out the pulp and seeds. Finally, you will need to wash the seeds thoroughly.

In contrast, squash seeds do not require any preparation. Rinse off the roots and enjoy.

Meal Preparation

Squash is better suited for baking than pumpkin. When preparing squash for baking, you will want to choose a variety that is low in moisture content.

These varieties include acorn, butternut, Delicata, and kabocha. Pumpkin is best used when making pies and cakes, and it is high in moisture content and cannot be used for baking purposes.

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Protein Content

Pumpkin is higher in protein than squash; a 3-cup serving of pumpkin contains 7 grams of protein compared to 4 grams of protein per cup of squash.

Squash does not have any significant amount of dietary fiber. On the other hand, a pumpkin provides 6 grams of dietary fiber per cup. Squash is lower in sodium content than pumpkin.

Sodium Content

Pumpkins contain more sodium when compared to squash; one cup of baked pumpkin contains 100 mg of sodium while one cup of squash contains just 30mg.

This is because pumpkin has more potassium than squash. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and maintain fluid balance, and sodium helps control water retention in your body.

You may lose up to two pounds of weight if you consume too much salt. If you eat a lot of sodium, your body will retain extra fluids, leading to swelling. 

Calories Content

Pumpkin is higher in calories than squash. One cup of pumpkin contains 140 calories, while one cup of squash has only 70 calories.

This is because pumpkin contains more carbohydrates than squash, and Carbs provide your body with energy. Furthermore, pumpkin is higher in fat than squash. One cup contains 8 grams of fat, while one cup of squash only contains 2 grams.

This is because pumpkin is high in saturated fats, and saturated fats help raise cholesterol levels in your blood.

Fibre Content

Pumpkin is higher in fiber than squash, and fiber helps promote regular bowel movements and reduce constipation. One cup of pumpkin provides 7 grams of fiber, while one cup of squash offers 3 grams. On the other hand, squash is low in fiber and contains less than 1 gram per serving.

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Iron Content

Pumpkin is higher in iron than squash. Iron is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in oxygen transport, and it also helps maintain healthy red blood cells. One cup of pumpkin has 0.4 milligrams of iron, while one cup of squash provides 0.1 milligrams.

Sugar Content

Pumpkin is lower in sugar than squash. Pumpkin does contain some natural sugars, and however, the amount is minimal. For example, one cup of pumpkin contains 4 grams of total carbohydrate, and in comparison, one cup of squash contains 9 grams of total carbohydrate.

Vitamin Content

Pumpkin contains more vitamin B6 than squash. Vitamin B6 helps convert food into energy, and it also helps regulate metabolism. One cup of pumpkin supplies 0.5 milligrams of this vitamin, while one cup of squash contains 0.2 milligrams.

Potassium Content

Potassium is essential to regulate fluid balance in your body, and your kidneys use this mineral to eliminate waste products from your system.

Pumpkin is higher in potassium than squash; one cup of pumpkin offers about 200 milligrams of potassium while one cup of squash contains about 100 milligrams.

Conclusion

Pumpkin and squash are both delicious fruits with very similar nutritional profiles. Both are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, the main difference is that squash is more nutritious than pumpkin. According to the USDA, squash is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. Pumpkin also provides these nutrients; however, most are present in smaller amounts. 

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