The pumpkin is native to the Americas, and its genus covers 27 species, of which 19 are wild and six domesticated.

This squash has been cultivated in the Yucatán Peninsula for at least 4,000 years. It is a key crop in the milpa, a traditional agricultural system, which intercrops corn, beans and pumpkins, the three staples of the Mayan diet. Moreover, pumpkin seeds, known as sikil in Mayan, were long the main source of fats and protein in Mesoamerica.
There are two types of pumpkin in the Yucatán, differentiated by the size of their seeds.

The small-seeded pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata), or k’uum, is harvested either early, when still young and tender, between July and August, or when ripe, between September and October. The early squash are used in many traditional recipes, while the riper ones are eaten fresh with honey, used in píib (cornbread baked in the oven with chicken or pork) or given as feed to farmyard animals, like the Hairless Pig (a Slow Food Presidium). The toasted seeds are used to prepare traditional condiments like sikil pak, a sauce that also contains tomato and habanero chilies.

The large-seeded pumpkin (Cucurbita argyrosperma), or x ka’, is harvested when green, between July and August, or ripe, between September and October. The flesh of the ripe squash is fibrous and used only for animal feed. The seeds, on the other hand, are greatly appreciated. Toasted and shelled, they are used in traditional recipes like pipián, a sauce served with chicken or pork, and papadzules, corn tortillas dipped in a pumpkin-seed sauce, filled with egg and served with a spicy tomato sauce.

Even though pumpkins are widely grown in the Yucatán, the local Mayan population does not have access to a market where they can sell their produce profitably. Giving value to the pumpkins means also preserving the milpa and all of its wealth.

Production area
Various communities in the Tixcacalcupul, Chankom, Tinum, Yaxcabá, Chikindzonot, and Tekóm municipalities, Yucatán State.

Presidium supported by
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
El Hombre Sobre la Tierra A.C.

In collaboration with
Comida Lenta A.C.
Slow Food Yucatán

Contacts

Phone:+52 9991503556

Info

Calle 22 No. 252 x 23, Col. Miguel Alemán
97148 Mérida (Yucatan)
Messico

The Presidium is made up of 14 producers in the southeast of the Yucatán state, who work with the association El Hombre Sobre la Tierra (HST).
HST is an interdisciplinary group of professionals and promoters who work for the sustainable development of natural resources in the Yucatán, diversi- fying economic activities in rural areas and strengthening socio-cultural identity.

The Presidium was started in 2016 as part of the Slow Yucatán project, which promotes a sustainable system of food production and consumption in order to improve the life of indigenous Mayan communities and bring them economic, cultural, social and health benefits. The Presidium wants to develop new ways of promoting the Yucatán pumpkin seeds from a gastronomic perspective, linking the producers with the lo- cal Slow Food network and identifying markets at a local, national and international level.

Production area
Various communities in the Tixcacalcupul, Chankom, Tinum, Yaxcabá, Chikindzonot, and Tekóm municipalities, Yucatán State.

Producers
14 producers who belong to El Hombre Sobre la Tierra

Last modified: 08 Dec 2021
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