Pumpkin is undoubtedly one of my favourite vegetables. It’s sweet when roasted and makes a velvety and comforting soup. Autumn is the best time for pumpkins and so you may find yourself picking a whole one up from your local market and using it in different ways throughout the week.
A word of warning though, cutting up pumpkin can have a strange effect on your skin. Why? Let’s explain.
Pumpkin skin contains a sap (similar to tree trunks) and when you cut into the pumpkin this sap is released. If you are feeding a crowd (and so chopping up a lot of pumpkin) you may end up with quite a bit on your hands. You don’t see the sap as you’re cutting, but it is designed to dry out and harden, which in the wild would then protect the pumpkin from the fruit’s wound. If you have lots of it on your hands and it dries it can create what seems like a fairly full-on facial peel that dries, cracks and then peels off.
It is disconcerting and doesn’t look great but it is nothing you need to rush to see the doctor about. It seems to be more common in pumpkin that has not fully ripened yet and so it doesn’t happen often. If you are concerned you can use a paper towel to hold the pumpkin to create a barrier between the cut pumpkin and your hand. If you are only cutting a small amount of pumpkin though, or you know that the pumpkin has been harvested at its peak you probably don’t need to worry.
As the sap dries and peels away it can feel as though a layer of skin is being removed. Do not worry though, it isn’t a layer of skin but simply the dried-out sap. If anyone ever dribbled liquid glue on their hands as a kid and then waited with fascination for it to dry out before peeling it off, this is similar to what is happening with your pumpkin hands. I have tried to wash my hands but haven’t had much luck to be honest. If I realise I have pumpkin hands I just let it go through the motions of drying out and peeling off.
So go forth and peel, cut, cook and enjoy your Autumn pumpkin!