As we turn the corner and practically fall into Halloween, the summer of twenty nineteen fades away. The nights are drawing in, the leaves have begun to change and it’s finally time to dig out the chunky knits again – can I get a hell yeah!? With the pending autumnal festivities fast approaching and with every pub in proximity burning a cheerful blaze on the log fire, it’s unquestionably one of the most loved and popular times of year.
One celebration ‘witch’ (the first of many puns) us Brits have started to fully embrace is Halloween, and no Halloween in complete without pumpkins, right? But have you ever thought about where they come from? Now, if you’re not already halfway out the door in search of a Pumpkin Spice Latte, get cosy and read on, as I delve a little deeper into the history of Pumpkins.
First things first, is it a fruit or vegetable? Ask any culinary expert and they’ll tell you it’s a vegetable, mainly because it’s not technically ‘sweet’, however ask your good old friend Google and it’s defined as a fruit, mainly because it matches the fruit dictionary definition – meaning it is grown from a seed and has seeds inside.
So, I hear you ask, where did they originate from? And how did they get their name? Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North American, but traces of the seeds have been found in Mexico dating all the way back to 5500 B.C. (wow!). The Native Americans used pumpkins as a primary source for their recipes and a foundation for their diet. The European pilgrims came along, saw the pumpkins grown by the natives and liked what they saw so much that they brought the seeds back to Europe. Before you know it, word spread, fast forward to today and pumpkins have now become commonly known and used for carving and decorating windowsills and porches at Halloween. Long live the Pumpkin!
Fun fact: Before Halloween was dominated by pumpkin power, the Irish and Scottish would carve jack-o-lanterns from turnips and potatoes!
Pumpkins got their name from the Greek word “Pepon” which means large melon. “Pepon” was changed by the French into “Pompon” then the English changed it to “Pumpion” and then it was FINALLY dubbed a “Pumpkin” by American colonists.
Beyond the phenomenon and practicality of a boo-utiful Halloween decoration, pumpkins also have a pretty impressive nutritional profile. They contain up to 94% water, are high in antioxidants, rich in vital vitamins and minerals, and can help keep you energized and your heart healthy. As well as vitamins C and E, one cup alone of the pumpkin contains more Vitamin A than a cup of kale – boo-yah!!
Fun fact: Back in October 2016 Mathias Willemijns from Belgium set the current world record for the heaviest pumpkin, weighing an impressive 2,624 pounds!
If this hasn’t already changed your mind and got you thinking about stock piling from your nearest pumpkin patch, then these foodie ideas just might. If you prefer to eat yours, you can pretty much create a full-on pumpkin inspired feast, both sweet and savoury, the options are near enough endless. Bar the stalk, you can use it in its entirety in a variety of different ways and I’m not just talking about your classic pumpkin pie:
• Pumpkin Brownies
• Pumpkin Muffins
• Pumpkin Spice Bagels/ Scones
• Pumpkin Crisps (by pealing the skin and cooking in the oven)
• Pumpkin Fires (cutting the Pumpkin and roasting in the oven)
• Pumpkin Soup
• Pumpkin Spice Latte
• Pumpkin Flavoured Beer (hmmm?)
• Pumpkin Flavoured Bread (YUM!)
• Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
• Pumpkin Curry / Risotto
• Pumpkin Puree
• Pumpkin Pancakes
• Pumpkin Porridge
You get the idea, pumpkins are both delicious and versatile, with more than one claim to fame, they really are the hallow-queens of the fruit crop.
Regardless if you carve, bake or make like Cinders dashing off to find your prince in one, pumpkins have a pretty badass history and are far richer than your Pumpkin Spiced Latte. If the guilt of chucking your carved pumpkin away after Halloween is far too much to handle, don’t be a lazy-bones, give one of the foodie ideas ago – eat drink and be scary.
Happy Halloween and creep it real!