Can Cucurbita pepo Gourd Seeds be Made Edible?

TitleCan Cucurbita pepo Gourd Seeds be Made Edible?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsHart, JP
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
KeywordsCucurbita pepo, Eastern North America, Gourd seed edibility, Seed crop processing

The earliest pre-maize indigenous crop in eastern North America are gourds of the species Cucurbita pepo; C. pepo gourd remains are found on mid-Holocene archaeological sites throughout the East. The C. pepo gourds of modern, natural populations produce high levels of extremely bitter cucurbitacins, chemicals which make both the flesh and the seeds inedible. It is assumed that the fruits and seed coats of the ancient C. pepo gourds were equally bitter and inedible. The major question regarding C. pepo gourds is how they would have been used. A series of recent experiments show that the seeds of dried C. pepo gourds can be processed to make them edible.