It's that time of year again from Hallowe'en carved lanterns to Cinderella's carriage it's time to to let our imaginations run away with us and celebrate all things pumpkin !
Firstly, although we always think of the pumpkin as a vegetable it is in fact a berry! & pumpkins are often known as squashes and come in all variety of forms. From your formal rotund orange pumpkin to harlequin, kabochas, delica and even spaghetti squashes the varieties and colours are fabulous at this time of year.
We have always had a special relationship with pumpkins since ancient times, in fact in North America, there have been seeds found dating as far back as 10,000 BC and they are believed to be one of the first cultivated wild foods. With this long history also comes folklore - Native Americans squashes are regarded as one of the "Three Sisters" - a staple food along with beans and corn. In China the pumpkin is a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. When European explorers arrived in the New World in the 15th/16th century they carried the seeds home in their pockets! Soon after the fruit infiltrated into our fairytales, and of course the magnificent coach taking Cinderella to the ball was the humble pumpkin. What a knock-out design that was!
Pumpkins have also unsettled us too and have long been connected to darkness and magic and that brings us to Hallowe'en.
But what a vegetable/berry/fruit it is with so many uses from ambitious carvings and autumnal floral decorations on our doorsteps and around the home and also delicious food making the pumpkin the number one vegetable of choice, albeit only for a very short time, and we certainly make the most of them!
We've pumpkin carvings where our neighbour's become professional artists and try out the most ambitious of carvings to impress. No longer just a lopsided face with zig-zag teeth we have Disney characters, witches on broomsticks, hunted houses, cats, dogs, even tv personalities the list now seems to be endless with whatever is in fashion at the time.
Then we use the pulp to make delicious soups, roasted vegetable bakes, savoury pumpkin tarts and delicious pumpkin pies. Long gone are the days when Jane Grigson described them as "wet and pointless as a form of nourishment" in her 1978 Vegetable Book.
Here is one of our favourite recipes "Roasted Pumpkin Seeds". Either savoury or sweet pumpkin seeds make a delicious, and unexpected, treat. https://www.jamieoliver.com/galleries/how-to-roast-pumpkin-seeds/
Serve in your favourite bowl with a glass of red wine after all that carving you deserve it!