Whether it is images for Halloween or the cornucopia concept of harvest, autumn to me can be summed up in one word ~ Pumpkins. There is something about these roly-poly orange veg that just makes me smile. (Maybe that is why we are driven to carve toothy faces into them?)
How big does your pumpkin grow?
I have never been exceptionally successful in growing pumpkins. But each year I try. And each year, thus far, I have managed to grow one pumpkin. Just one. Albeit a huge one.
Thought went into the where of the plant. I learned from before how they spread and climb over anything in their path. Knowing this, two sites on the edge of the garden beds were chosen.
A progression of learning
As summer progressed so did the vine. With each growth spurt it was trained in a specific direction. Keeping it along the veg garden paths. Better it be in the way underfoot than strangling our other vegetables.
The vines got longer and longer. One headed up the path, the other down. And finally, a single pumpkin emerged. Rather disappointing for all that vine. And then I learned about pollination and pruning the vine to encourage more pumpkins. And suddenly we had 5 more emerge.
Pumpkins ripen very slowly. But it is a lovely thing to see when they do. These little (or sometimes very big) spots of orange in an otherwise green, or later on dying, garden.
As autumn’s weather rolls in, we start harvesting a couple pumpkins. They are brought inside and set proudly on the table as decoration, giving a festive cheer to gloomy weather with their sunny colour. And then thoughts turn to what to do with them.
Of course with Halloween approaching we could consider carving a face. But here in France Halloween is not really celebrated. At least not in the traditional USA concept of trick or treating and setting a carved pumpkin out on the doorstep.
Halloween here is really more about All Saints Day, 1st November. It is in fact a holiday. Family gatherings are the norm. But children’s parties and costumes are showing up more and more.
Time to eat Pumpkins
So if not carving a pumpkin into a scary face, what am I going to do with them? Why eat them of course. Pumpkins make such delicious dishes. My top favourites, that I make every year, are:
Spicy Pumpkin and Apple Chutney This is an absolute favourite recipe for pumpkins. Super easy to make. And don’t just use it as a side flavouring. I add it to dishes, like sautéed pork. Sweet and spicy it will add flavour to anything you are cooking.
Thai Coconut Pumpkin Soup A classic with a twist. Vegan and vegetarian friendly, too. Perfect for those cooling autumn days.
Pumpkin and Peas Curry Spicy and flavourful. It’s like an exotic stew. Vegetarian friendly, too.
And let’s not forget the most important – pumpkin purée. I always save some of each pumpkin to make this. It has so many uses, not least of course is Pumpkin Pie. (More on this in a moment.) But purée isn’t just for pie. This year we are tying pumpkin latte a well as no bake pumpkin bites, amongst others. So worth making a big batch. And it freezes.
Personally, I think Pumpkin Pie was the reason pumpkins were invented.
I remember I had a couple of visitors during the slaughtering of my single overly large pumpkin one year. All were treated to my variety of pumpkin recipes. The Chutney was declared the all time favourite, going particularly well with Comté cheese.
And, to my horror, almost all had never tried Pumpkin Pie. Sacré bleu! They hadn’t lived! (At least not in the United States.) Of course I had to make Guinea pigs of them all, much to their cautious consternation. But they agreed, and with some surprise, declared it delicious.
My go to Pumpkin Pie recipe is from Simply Recipes. I can’t recommend highly enough. Oh, and if you don’t have fresh purée you can substitute canned, if you can get it. In France I have never found it, so hence learning to make my own. And making certain I freeze measured batches for future pies during the autumn and winter months.
And let’s not forget those seeds! Roasted Pumpkin Seeds are a wonderful, nibbly treat. And super good for you, too. If I have set out to roast some pumpkin, it’s an easy thing to prep the seeds and let them follow in the already warmed up oven. They are a very quick and easy snack to make.
As we move into October, I have a huge pumpkin sitting on my table in pride of place and 2 more still on the vines. I am looking forward to letting this delicious veg take us well into winter.
But in the meantime, are you ready to talk more Marrows?
Gardener Gifts from Our Shop
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