Pumpkins and squashes are a fairly new vegetable to Scotland, having been introduced over the last 20 years or so. Turnips were always the vegetable of choice at Halloween to make into lanterns to scare away the witches.
I remember as a child, my Dad taking me out to a field of turnips (grown for sheep to eat over the winter), finding the biggest one possible, taking it back to carve & put a candle in.
After bending several spoons & really not making any impression, Dad got out his drill & the biggest drill bit he had and drilled out the turnip, so that I could cut out a face and put a candle into the hollowed out turnip shell.
I can’t remember what happened to the insides of the turnip, but we probably ate a lot of mashed turnip over the next few days.
Thank goodness pumpkins started appearing in the shops – it made Halloween lantern making a whole lot quicker and easier.
The big carving pumpkins are no good for eating, they are too watery & flavourless. Look for the culinary ones, often different shapes, colours and sizes with drier, more flavoursome flesh.
What’s the difference between a pumpkin, squash or gourd?
Gourds are inedible & are used as decoration or to be made into things such as water carriers, bird houses, bowls…
Pumpkins & squashes are the edible cultivars and come in all sorts of shapes & sizes.
How to cook your pumpkins
There are basically 2 ways to use a pumpkin or squash –
Either peel off the skin & roast or steam the flesh before using. This works well with butternut squash and any smooth, thin skinned squash.
Roast the pumpkin & scrape the flesh from the skin once cooked. You can either cut the pumpkin into slices to do this or just scoop out the seeds and roast the whole thing.