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Dale Hodgins
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Last Saturday, I learned of pumpkins that are grown for the oil in their seeds. A tiny bottle of oil was for sale at the farmer's market for $27. It contained about 250 ml or one cup of oil.

This oil is an export crop in Slovenia, where the cultivar was developed. ( I have learned that Austria is home to this variety. Lots of food rivalries in the European Union). The seeds are hull less. The pressed seed mash is used as a flour. Most other crops that could provide me with oil would be eaten by birds,rabbits and deer where I live. They haven't bothered my pumpkins. I have no means of mechanically harvesting canola, flax or other oil seeds. Pumpkins are easily harvested by hand and are large enough that I'm likely to not miss any.

My 19 year old daughter is currently being paid to travel Italy. She teaches English at summer camps and moves in with a new host family in a new town every week or two. She's now in Trieste, 10 km from Slovenia. She called yesterday, and told me they are going to Slovenia on Wednesday. Seeds will be purchased, I hope. I don't know anyone from there or anyone who has gone there. She had better get those seeds.

Do any of you have experience with oil pumpkins ? Any help would be appreciated.
 
John Elliott
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The reason it is so expensive is that those seeds have to be squeezed by Slovenian craftsmen, one at a time, with specially made vise-grips.
 
wayne fajkus
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See if she can look into the cost of the l tool described
 
Su Ba
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Wow, haven't heard about pumpkin seed oil. I bet I could produce the oil if I had the right pumpkin variety. I have one of those hand rank oil expressers which I use to produce macnut oil and sunflower seed oil.

Now you got m curiosity up.
 
wayne fajkus
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I've been looking it up. Said a mortar and pestle would extract the oil. 2 pumpkins should net 1 liter of oil.
 
Dale Hodgins
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If production comes anywhere near that, I'll be happy. My latitude is 2 degrees north of theirs. My summers are slightly hotter. They grow them in Germany to the north and further south in Italy. It must not be very picky.

I'm not sure which tool Wayne is referring to.
 
Amedean Messan
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Dale Hodgins wrote:....Seeds will be purchased, I hope. I don't know anyone from there or anyone who has gone there. She had better get those seeds....


Hey Dale, can you do me a favor and update us when you get those seeds.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'll do more than that. I'll try them and send you some seed once I get a crop. I'll probably run them through this food processor. Paid $25 which was a steal. I'll record crop yield and oil yield.

This is my favorite crop discovery so far. It puts oil production within the grasp of most gardeners. An hour ago, I sold vegetables to a lady from Bulgaria. It's common there and she has no supplier here. A few seeds can be crushed and used to oil the pan for any dish that includes pumpkin seeds.

I'm told that it can cost less than olive oil in places that are too cold for olives. A number of sources claim greater health benefits than olive oil. Cooking degrades the oil's quality.
IMAG5703.jpg
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Su Ba
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Another suggestion about how to get the oil. I can make macadamia nut butter using a food processor, and if I let it sit, quite a bit of the oil separates. I can then simply pour or spoon it out. I bet I could do that with pumpkin seed too, as long as the seed is "naked" type. It's worth a try.

Dale, I'd be interested in 2-3 seeds too. I'd love to try a new oil crop.
 
Su Ba
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LOL, just saw that you already mentioned the food processor method. Ah, great minds think alike, so they say,
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm going to try to get a few pounds of seed shipped. I'll post here when they arrive. If we have a member who is in the seed business, this might be a hot seller. Everybody, place your orders or your interest here and hopefully, when enough people respond, a bulk order can be obtained and shipped around. I'm gonna be like Jonny Pumkin Seed.

Chime in to show your interest. Once we get a bunch, I'll hunt down an eager seed seller.
 
wayne fajkus
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I'd be in on a seed purchase.

The tool I referred to came from another post which said they use a modified vise grip to extract the oil. When i looked online I found different options.

I also saw that China and India makes it from a white seeded pumpkin.

Very interesting stuff. I bought some pecan oil since it grows here. Boy can it take the heat. Never got smoke from it like other oils. Need to play with getting oil from it.
 
John Polk
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The local Trader Joe's started selling Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil here around a month ago.
Since this thread began, I just bought a tin of it today. A 250ml (8.45oz) tin costs $9.99 - ouch.

The label states:
The source of TJ's ...oil is the Styrian region of SE Austria, where the oil is a distinct culinary specialty. It's eerily dark green in color and chock full of intense nutty flavor. Don't use it for cooking as it burns easily, but DO use it for dipping breads and dressing salads.

 
Denis Huel
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The pumpkins are called Styrian pumpkins. They are striped yellow/green. The flesh is not really edible but likely could be used as animal feed. The seeds are large, deep green and hulless. I grew an acre of them 10 years ago in Saskatchewan. I obtained my seeds from Richters and the variety was a little late for my area. With storage I am certain that seeds would have continued to develop and mature. I saved a few to eat the seeds but discarded the majority of them. Johnny's Seeds has a variety called Kakai that from the description is smaller than the ones I grew but likely earlier maturing as well. I have not grown it but likely will some day.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I think John Elliott was joking about the vise grips.

On cooking the oil - I've heard the same as John Polk. It can be used for low heat things like a spread for pasta and vegetables that have been boiled or mixed with pre cooked sauces. Frying temperature is no good. I want to try it as a baste for venison and other meats that lack fat. Meat done in a crock pot doesn't heat the oil like frying would. Roasting at 350 F doesn't seem so bad. I imagine spreading seeds liberally and inserting into cuts in dry meat. The seeds shed oil when heated. The pulp of the seed would take on a meat flavor just as potatoes and carrots do. I'm going to search out flash point and try to determine critical temperature for oil damage due to heat. A very slow boil with spices improves wild meat. Seeds that are boiled would see 212 F at sea level.

I've only had one taste of pumpkin oil and now I want to do for it what George Washington Carver did for peanuts. I liked the strong flavour. I could see infusing it with many spices as is done with olive oil.
---------------------
Denis, did you direct seed or start in a hot house ? Saskatchewan can get very early frosts. Do you recall when your season ended. My first frost is usually around November 1-15.
 
Angelika Maier
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Pumpkin oil is yum they best oil ever. But it is certainly not used to cook. Drizzled over lettuce or tomato, mozzarella and basil it makes sense.
Wayne were did you get this figure from: two pumpkins one liter of oil that sounds far too much for me. If that is even anywhere near true I will plant heaps
that summer.
How do you get oil pressed with a food mill? Dale has an awesome mill, is it really useful to make oil?
Apparently oil pumpkins are not good eating but if you have animals that shouldn't be a problem.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Angelika Maier wrote: Dale has an awesome mill, is it really useful to make oil?


I'm going to test it with some sunflower seeds and Brasil nuts. This might give some indication. The machines on YouTube work well.
 
Leila Rich
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Pumpkin seed oil is delicious, but be warned that the hull-less varieties I've come across are extremely average in the seed-department
and you'd need a massive amount to get much oil.

And: beware the promiscuous pumpkin (it's a proper botanical word, ok?)
I very much suggest if you plant, say, a hull-less C. Pepo,
avoid growing other pepo varieties that season if you plan to save seed.
The crossed progeny are rubbish in my experience:
the supposed hull-less seeds have shells (pathetic ones, but still...)
and 'normal' pumpkins have the basically inedible flesh of hull-less pumpkins.
 
Tina Paxton
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Check this for info on the health benefits of pumpkin seed oil: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=82

 
Denis Huel
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I sowed them directly into an open organic field (not an exceptionally warm site), the date was likely May 20-25, with frost around Sept 10. Some of the pumpkins were quite large 20lbs+, so a smaller variety would likely mature earlier. Some produced nice seed but many were immature. I suspect seed oil content would improve greatly with maturity and storing the pumpkins in a warm greenhouse might have accomplished that. All in all it was a very interesting plant but then again I find many plants interesting. In a later year I grew a semi-hulless strain (variety name) of a more conventional pumpkin but they did not have the very large dark green seeds that the styrian pumpkin had, more like a olive green and a seed only about half the size of the styrian strain.
 
wayne fajkus
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Angelika, everything I stated came from Internet searches. I can't validate any of it.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Wayne, I wouldn't fret about the validation thing. I learned of no till potatoes and hugelkultur over the internet. Both are proving themselves on my land.
------------------------------------------
I'm glad to hear that the seeds and pumpkins are large. This should mean less fiddling. Half a litre from a 20 pounder is 5% roughly. A litre of olive oil weighs about 2 lb. That seems within the realm of possibility ( Edit, a few hours later --- lt wasn't. Looks like you get half a litre of wet seeds and need 15 pumpkins to get that much oil ). We're also going to get some edible seed mash with residual oil content and lots of shells for the pigs.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I just spoke to the receptionist at Richter's Herbs. She has grown them in her yard in partial shade which is not ideal. She roasted her possibly immature seeds and the kids liked them. They were oily. She made no attempt to extract oil and hasn't grown them again due to space and light required. They grew to about one foot in diameter. Customers have produced larger pumpkins in better conditions.

They get their supply from Austria. One kilogram of seeds costs $180. Half a kilo - 1.1 lb. is $90. At four seeds per gram, that's 4,000 seeds. It costs about $6 to ship. Little packets are $3 but there's a $6 shipping and handling fee, so $9 altogether. Mixed with orders for other seeds, it becomes more economic.

I'm thinking that the distributing of small quantity could be handled by someone (an intern) at the farm. They have a paypal account. Failing that, I will do it. It might be best if I do it for Canada and someone else for the U.S. etc.

I'm getting some for sure. I don't have room for thousands. I'll send a few dozen to the laboratory (Paul's) for testing. They could then advise and become a seed distributor.
----------------------------
Yield. --- After looking at several sites, I believe about 150 grams of dried seed per pumpkin is a reasonable expectation. That's about .3 of a pound. You need 25-30 (about 400 lb) pumpkins to get a litre (quart) of oil. That's a lot of pig and chicken feed from unusable portions of the plant. This is starting to look like work !
------------------------------------
So once you get 5 kg or 10 lb of dry seeds together, you're in a position to make a litre of oil. Would I trade 10 lb of a tasty, ready to eat snack food for a litre of salad oil ? ---- No, I would not. I'd eat the seeds. Even if there were no work involved in extraction, I'd eat the seeds. I guess I need to grow some of these and other hull less varieties, to see which ones perform better.

What we have here is a very good way to make pig food and a healthy snack food for us. I too, stumbled upon claims of half a litre per pumpkin. Reality has set in. I'm not going to be an oil baron. The tonnage required lends itself to large, mechanized operations. I will grow some and compare to other choices for the space and work involved..
 
John Polk
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As an idea of what to expect, here is an image from Richter's catalog


I also came across an image of Styrian potato salad that had a handful of the seeds thrown on top.
Perhaps fresh eating would be more economical (time wise) than trying to get a batch of oil.
 
Dan Boone
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This thread was worth it to me just for introducing the notion of hull-less pumpkin seeds. I was making the mental leap to snack foods pretty fast after that.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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See Dave Boehnlein's post about a Piteba oil press in a thread about making your own oil press.

 
John Polk
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A little more exploration shows me:

* In Austria/Slovenia they do not even consider the pulp suitable for animal feed
The pulp is most often just left in the field to decompose.

* Any heating of the oil - either in extraction or cooking - destroys any medicinal properties of the oil.
Roasting may actually be beneficial for snacking, as more than a handful of raw seeds may be an overdose.

* In Austria, the oil is drizzled onto vanilla ice cream for a nutty flavor.

 
Angelika Maier
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I'll stick with the olives. C pepo is as well zucchini, I want to plant them.
After reading this I think pumpkin seed oil is for those who have at least an acre to spare and feed a cow which is not
overly picky or maybe some pigs.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm near the city. If I were to grow these, it would make sense to also sell pumpkins for Halloween carving. The tops could be cut cleanly and the guts removed. A premium product. Customers could buy seeded or gutted. A little sticker tells how to roast the seeds. Most lanterns are orange. Striped ones would find their niche. In this way, I could sell my pumpkin and eat it too.
 
Kim Hill
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I am growing the hulless seed pumpkins this year. I found the seeds online I think at Victory seeds (sorry not home to check for sure). So far I have 4 fairly large pumpkins growing. Once they ripen, I hope to not only eat the seeds but try to press them as well.

One thing I do remember from the seed packet, or was it reading about them online, anyway, the seeds do not store well and you must be extremely careful when shipping. Package well, do not freeze or get too hot. Once I learn more from my taste tests and pressing experiments, I will let you know. Kim
 
Kim Hill
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Here is link to the seeds I purchased and am growing this year. I think there were like 5 or 6 seeds in the packet and the cost is $2.55. Kim
http://www.victoryseeds.com/pumpkin_williams-naked.html
 
Julia Winter
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Well, now we know why the oil is so expensive! I got a tiny bottle of it as a present, I used it for salad dressing. It is delicious.
 
Jason Learned
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Hi Dale,

I have spent a great deal of time in Slovenia over the last 13 years. A friend of mine took me to the guy who according to many makes the best pumpkin oil. I watched him make a batch. First he had stone rollers that crushed the seeds into a meal. Then he put the meal into a big hot pan thing with a metal paddle that automatically turned the mix to keep it from scorching and he added some water (I guess to keep the heat down) He told me that before he converted the cooker to gas it had run on the shells of sunflower seeds to burn the fire and he told me that that oil was better still. Anyway after a few minutes when it had the right smell he started to fill the press. He would take about a shovel and a half and put it in this foot wide tube then drop a round plate of steel on to it and then put in more meal then a plate and so on. I think it was about 3 feet high. He then turned on the hydraulic ram and the oil rushed to the wider pan collector at the bottom of the tube. When done the meal was in half inch thick pancakes that he said were for the animals.

He also said that the EU almost killed his business because they want so few particulates in oil. He told the local politician guys that they would no longer have oil like this and they were killing a traditional craft and somehow they pushed through and exemption for pumpkin oils. I find the Slovenian to be better than the Austrian, but never eat any from France or you may never want to try this great oil again.

And my friends in both Austria and Slovenia don't cook with this oil. They may add it to soups for flavor but not to cook with. It is great on vanilla ice cream, but most of the time I have it in salad with a clove of crushed garlic an acid and some additional olive oil as my Slovene friends do. I am a bit boring that way. I am sure there is much more that could be done with it.

Either way I just wanted to say the the press seemed pretty primitive and could probably be built using a screw jack, but man that was really great oil.

They also said there are a few varieties of pumpkins that they use and that one type makes an oil seed with flesh that is edible.
 
David Livingston
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Whats wrong with the French oil
I have never tried it , just wondered

David
 
Jason Learned
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David Livingston wrote:Whats wrong with the French oil
I have never tried it , just wondered

David


Hi David,

The not roasted Styrian (both Austrian Styria and Slovene Styria) has a little nutty flavor. The roasted Styrian is very nutty and aromatic with intense flavor. As for the French one, it was made by Cauvin and maybe it was just them, but the nuttyness smell is almost non-existent with a little hint of benzene and the taste turns the nut into a really bad attribute. I just dug it out of the cupboard and tasted it with the stuff I just got from a Slovene farmers market a few weeks ago and I am having a real hard time describing the taste of this French stuff, mostly oily (not a great review on my part) but it is not rancid just not pleasant. I bought it in Czech though so maybe it was the lower quality stuff being sold off to the East. It does happen a little over here.

I see you live in France, if you find a better one let me know! If you go to Slovenia though, check out a farmers market in the upper half of the country and you should get a liter for 10-15 Euros.

Jason
 
Sue Rine
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I'm happy to report tht the flesh is fine used for pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie. It just needs plenty of flavour added. Where we live, in NZ, in an area with plenty of autumn rain, there is a tendency for this variety to rot out underneath while seeming fine on top so we check them often when they are close to maturity. Maybe that wouldn't be a problem in drier areas.
 
Deb Berman
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We've grown Kakai successfully for seed here in northern Idaho. We have cool summer nights and often have very cold wet springs, so what I do is pregerminate the seeds in damp perlite in a warm place in the house, and then plant them out once they sprout. Otherwise they just rot in the ground. We get maybe a half-cup to a cup of seed from each pumpkin. We eat the seeds roasted (good protein source) and haven't extracted oil from them (yet). The worms really like the flesh.

We are planning on trialing different hulless seeded pumpkins, so if anyone knows of a variety, let me know. Next year we are planning on doing Triple Treat.

Has anyone tried chufa for oil production? I hear it has a fatty acid profile similar to olive oil, and as it is considered invasive by some folks, ought to be easy to grow.
 
Crt Jakhel
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Hey - I'm from Slovenia, the NE part next to the Austrian border. Naked seed pumpkins are regularly grown here.

As I type our bees are on the neighbor's 2 acres of pumpkins and I'm having a breakfast of pumpkin oil mixed into cottage cheese with tomatoes and onions.

It has been a wet year so there's some danger of fungal disease on the leaves but overall the pumpkins are doing well.

There are two methods of oil extraction, the regular one where the seeds are heated to over 200 F is actually the one which produces the most flavorful oil - although the more sensitive components can get destroyed in the process. Cold extraction on the other hand tries to preserve everything but one of the consequences is that the seed : oil ratio is much more demanding - it takes 3 units of seed for 1 unit of oil using the heating method but twice that using the cold method. (3 kg per 1l = 26 lb per US gallon or so Google says.)

The leftovers from pressing the seed could, I guess, be dried and milled to produce a "flour" much like with hemp seed. Haven't seen that on offer yet though.

A local producer has a page up in English so you can read about the pumpkins and the production process: http://www.kocbek1929.com/en/?page=nasveti&action=view&id_kategorija=32

The pumpkins grown here are often Austrian naked seed varieties like Gleisdorfer and its derivatives although there is also a native cultivar, slovenska golica (Slovenian naked-seed pumpkin - not very imaginative but there you go.)

If you are interested in the seed, I can (not immediately but sometime during this month) research the price / quantities in which it is available here. Of course postage can also have a big effect.

Some info in case you want to grow your own:

- 4-5 kg (8-10 lb) of seed per ha (1 ha = about 2 acres, so let's say about 5 lb per acre) in case you're sowing manually
- the usual distances: 70 cm (2 ft) inside the row, 140 cm (4 ft) between rows
- depth of 3-5 cm (1-2 in)
- plants can't stand frost and will refuse to grow below 45 F

 
Crt Jakhel
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Here's an idea... Slice a whole lot of onions. Pour pumpkin oil over that liberally. Not so much that you have onions floating in the oil but they must be quite soaked. Mix salt into it as your taste requires. Stir vigorously. Let it all sit and ripen overnight, stir again. The onion slices will have become soft and their juices will have blended with the oil nicely. Enjoy.
 
Julianna Holden Mohler
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I can't comment on growing the pumpkins, or anything about how to obtain the seed. But I lived in SE Austria (Graz) for a year and had the Kürbiskernöl (kuerbiskernoel) aka pumpkin seed oil, numerous times. Every time we return to Graz, I pick up a tin of the oil to bring back to the states. The Trader Joe's variety pales in comparison.

Styria (the state in Austria) is the only region of the world where the product comes from (though all pumpkins originated in the America's), and they protect their seeds and crops pretty closely because of it. It's a culinary delight, and much sought by chefs. Just like any food product, wine, etc, they have awards and gold medals yearly. There are good seed oils, and cheaper & less tasty ones from the same seeds. It all depends on how it's grown and how it's processed (like any foods).

The oil is volatile, meaning it can't be heated without destroying the taste and qualities. It's a perfect salad oil but they also drizzle it in hot dishes (pumpkin soup, for example), as a marinade, and various other applications. They also use the seeds for snacking - coating them with vanilla, orange and chocolate flavors (to name a few). They use the seeds in breading for wiener schnitzel as well.

The oil is dark green and stains clothing easily, but if clothing is left in sunlight, the green disappears. You still have to deal with the oil removal, but at least the color is easily addressed. I don't know if the pumpkin is edible. Based on what others have said in this forum, it appears it's not. I'm really not sure about that, because we had pumpkin soup (orange in color) with the drizzled green oil and cream. I always assumed it was from the same variety of pumpkin.

Here is what the main website says about the control of these seeds and products:

"With its designation as a product of Protected Designation of Origin, Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil P.G.I. joins the company of products such as: Champagne, Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Greek Feta Cheese and Nürnberger Lebkuchen as one of the most well controlled, elite and exclusive European specialities."

Here is the full article on the topic of origin protection: http://www.steirisches-kuerbiskernoel.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=93&lang=en

Here is the rest of the website:

http://www.steirisches-kuerbiskernoel.eu/index.php?lang=en

The pumpkins are orange with green stripes, yellow/white flesh, and green seeds. They are hull-less. They are Cucurbita pepo var. styriaca




 
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