The British record for the largest pumpkin was just smashed with a staggering 600kg monster – read more here. But remember, pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween. These magnificent large squashes are perfect for adding an autumnal feel to any menu.
The pumpkin is a member of the squash family. Some are grown purely for size and decoration – these are the largest pumpkins. Typical varieties include ‘Jack O Lantern’ or ‘Atlantic Giant’. Smaller specimens are grown for flavour and have a denser flesh, such as ‘Baby Bear’ or the ribbed ‘Musquee de Provence’. So make sure you specify your purpose when placing any orders.
Botanically speaking, pumpkins are one of the hundreds of varieties of winter squash. Summer squashes do not store so long and are harvested earlier in the season. Examples of these include courgettes and patty pans.
Uses in the Kitchen
If you’re not carving the pumpkins, the better flavoured varieties are very versatile in the kitchen. For soups, there is the traditional approach – perhaps a creamy velouté served with parmesan croutons. Or try an Asian twist with coconut milk, pinch of curry powder and a hit of chilli.
Roasting pumpkin is your best bet for salads and side dishes. See more info here. Or try steaming and mashing the flesh. The Italians, of course, use pumpkin with pasta, such as in filling with ricotta and a twist of nutmeg for ravioli. Pumpkin pie is a more American treatment, but is delicious when done well. You can also use the puréed flesh in cheesecakes.