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Top tips for pumpkin picking with your family

Autumn is truly upon of us, bringing all the cosy, golden vibes. Aside from cosy socks, darker evenings, snuggling down with a hot chocolate and crunching leaves under our feet, autumn brings a new selection of seasonal fruit and veg, including the glorious pumpkin.

Pumpkin picking is a brilliant way to get your kids involved with the dawn of a new season, learn about gratitude and abundance and educate them about the importance of eating seasonally and the annual harvest.

 

  • Pumpkins come into their prime in Autumn
  • Pumpkins are absolutely packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals, which make them not only fun and festive but an awesome ingredient to cook with your kids.
  • Pumpkins are grown in the ground
  • They are normally planted during the spring or summer to be ripe and ready for autumn (most notably, for Halloween).
  •  When it comes to the carved Halloween pumpkins we are so used to seeing adorning doorways and Halloween festivities, it was the early Irish immigrants who first took the Jack O’Lantern to the US.

 

Irish folklore said Jack was a blacksmith who tricked the devil multiple times and when he died, he was denied entrance to both heaven and hell. When the devil turned him away he gave Jack an ember. Jack hollowed out a turnip for the ember to carry for light and the Irish marked this story by doing the same. As time progressed pumpkins were more available than turnips – and the carved Halloween pumpkin became the norm. Now we see these carved lit up pumpkin faces all over the world.

It’s a fabulous way to get your kids excited about picking a pumpkin by telling them this story, and then going as a family to pick your pumpkin at many locations available across the UK, the US and Europe.

 

How to pick a good pumpkin?

 

So what do you need to look for when picking your pumpkin?

  1. You want your pumpkin to be firm all over, soft spots are a sign of decay
  2. Any pumpkins with blemishes should be avoided
  3. You want a hard and sturdy stalk if possible
  4. Ask the organisers of the pumpkin field which are best for carving and cooking – depending on what you’re after
  5. It is always easier to carve a large pumpkin rather than a small one.


Aside from picking the pumpkin, this is a really great way to get outside with your kids as the season changes. Whilst it may bring more uncertain weather, there are multiple benefits of children and adults alike spending time outdoors.

  • One benefit is the importance of vitamin D – a vitamin we only absorb through sunlight and is essential for our wellbeing.
  • Your children will also have the opportunity to learn about the world outside of a screen and appreciate the nature around them.

A simple act of gratitude

 

Pumpkin picking is also a great way to teach them about the annual harvest , which is when we reap the benefits of fruits and vegetables planted in the spring and appreciate the food available for the winter months. Check out our seasonal Autumnal fruits and vegetables calendar here

Pumpkin picking is a brilliant way to get your kids involved with the dawn of a new season, learn about gratitude and abundance and educate them about the importance of eating seasonally and the annual harvest. 

 

How to carve a pumpkin?

 

So you’ve picked your pumpkin and now it’s time to carve it and make your very own jack o’lantern. But how do you start?

NB it is always easier to carve a large pumpkin rather than a small one.

  1. Cut the top off your pumpkin so you can access the middle.
  2. Using a very large spoon, scoop out all the pumpkin flesh and seeds. Put these to one side, as they are great for cooking with.
  3. With a marker pen, draw a face on the front of the pumpkin that you want to use as a guide to carve.
  4. Use a very small serrated knife to carve the pumpkin. It is essential you supervise your children for this and do it for them if they are of a younger age. Take it slowly and don’t rush!
  5. Once you’ve carved it out, pop a tea light inside and voila! Pop the lid of the pumpkin back on the top for that Halloween glow.

 

What can I cook with a pumpkin?

 

Pumpkin carving is great fun, but so is cooking with pumpkin, and it turns out you can make some very delicious sweet and savoury dishes with pumpkin. Try this simple soup to get you started.

 

 

  • 1 medium to large pumpkin
  • 2 small red onions
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 glove garlic
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 800 ml vegetable stock (from two stock cubes)
  • 80 ml crème fraiche (or a vegan equivalent)

 

  1. Finely chop the onion and fry with the coconut oil until colouring.
  2. Chop the pumpkin into chunks and add this to the pan. Add the garlic, paprika and chilli flakes and fry together for 7-8 mins.
  3. Pour over the vegetable stock and simmer for another 15 mins, until the pumpkin is soft.
  4. Add the crème fraiche and mix together. Use a hand blender or transfer to a blender.
  5. Serve or freeze to reheat at a later date!

You can find more great recipes for all the family here.

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