Before I moved to Austria I had never heard of pumpkin seed oil.
Pumpkin seed oil is surprisingly green, with a nutty taste, and is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Austrians are absolutely nuts about it (pun intended).
From late summer to autumn, fields and fields of bulbous orange pumpkins adorn the land to dry their lives away, especially in the state of Styria, for which pumpkin seed oil is particularly well known. When I first saw the fields I questioned why the pumpkins were left, obviously fully grown, and unattended for so long. Isn’t it tempting for someone to just grab one for an evening meal? Not the case, since these pumpkins are like ‘corn for the animals’ that take over most of the other fields in Austria – these pumpkins are not grown for their flesh, they are grown for their seeds.
Pumpkin seed oil is one of the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products. For the production of Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil with the PGI (protected graphical indication) seal there exists a full control system. In fact, it is among the best-controlled specialities in Europe. This means the origin of Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil is fully traceable, from the field it’s harvested from, to the pressing in the oil mills, and the subsequent labelling and marketing.
It is literally the champagne of oils – you can’t call it pure Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil unless it’s certified. There are mentions to it as ‘Green Gold’, and this really shows just how much Austrians love the stuff. They douse their salads with it, they add it to cooking, hell, they even put it on ice cream.
And it’s good – it’s damn good. If you find yourself in Austria, and especially Styria, make sure you try some.
Insider tip: if you ever spill some on your clothes, don’t worry, just put them out in the sun… and boom… the stain is gone.