Having high nutritional value and low cultivation costs, pumpkin fruit makes a great candidate to be used by the food industry as a functional ingredient. To prolong its shelf life and widen the array of its potential uses in food products, drying and powdering have been applied, producing pumpkin flour. Several studies have been done to optimize the drying method of pumpkin in order to preserve or reduce the loss of its nutritional constituents and color changes during drying and storage. As vacuum freeze drying produces great quality pumpkin powder and best preserves the β-carotene and phenolic contents of the fruit, it is considered an expensive technique that could be inconvenient to be used in developing countries or for cost-reduction purposes. Air drying is a cheaper technique but results in less nutrient preservation than vacuum drying. This highlights the role of pretreatments in order to reduce the loss of nutrients and produce better quality pumpkin flour. Hot water blanching followed by metabisulfite pretreatment results in the best carotenoid stability and preservation of phenolic compounds in the produced powder. Incorporation of pumpkin powder in wheat bread could increase its nutritional value by increasing the levels of dietary fiber, pro-vitamin A β-carotene, calcium, iron, and zinc and by decreasing the carbohydrate and caloric contents.
Part of the book: The Health Benefits of Foods