The pumpkin is harvested in October and it is a vegetable synonymous with Autumn. Pumpkins are usually carved for Halloween decorations, however, pumpkins are one of the most nutritional plant-based foods on the planet!

Vegetables were carved to ward off evil spirits
Vegetables were carved to ward off evil spirits

The bright orange hue of the pumpkin hints that its filled with the anti-oxidant beta-carotene –  just like carrots. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in the body and is essential for healthy hair, skin and eyes! So remember to eat your pumpkins this Halloween so you can see any ghouls in the dark! Pumpkins are also rich in potassium and are a perfect autumnal alternative to bananas as a post-workout meal.

Pumpkin seeds are also one of the most nutrient-dense seeds you can eat. Consuming seeds like pumpkin seeds is especially important if you are following any restrictive diets due to health or personal reasons. A 170g serving of pumpkin seeds provides 6g of protein and they are an excellent source of magnesium and zinc. 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds provides 1/7 of a woman’s RDA (recommended daily allowance) of zinc[1].

Oh, My Gourd!

  • Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, alongside melons, courgettes and cucumbers. Although referred to, and generally eaten, as a vegetable, the pumpkin is technically a fruit.
  • There are about 45 pumpkin varieties which range in colours including red,  yellow and green.
Pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes and colours!
Pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes and colours!
  • Traditional Jack-o’-Lanterns were traditionally made with potatoes and turnips to ward off evil spirits. The Irish brought this tradition to America and found pumpkins easier to carve.
  • Although a native plant of Central America, pumpkins can be grown in most climates around the world.
  • Each pumpkin contains around 500 seeds. The seeds are edible and can be roasted to use to top salads, soup and cereals.
  • Every part of the pumpkin is edible. The skin, leaves, flower, pulp, seeds and even the stem!
  • Pumpkins take 3 – 4 months to grow so seeds are usually sown in May to be harvested in October.
  • Pumpkins are 90% water. They have a lower calorie content than sweet potatoes, more fibre than kale, more potassium than bananas and are rich in magnesium and iron.

Halloween

Halloween has origins in an ancient Celtic celebration called Samhain[2]. Samhain was to mark the end of summer and harvest before the winter season, a time of year associated with death. On this night, 31st October, the Celts believed the spirits of the dead returned to Earth. The presence of these spirits made it easier for Druids to make predictions about the future.

During the celebrations, the Celts would dress up, usually wearing animal skins, and make sacrifices to the Celtic deities in a big bonfire built by the Druids[2].

This now secular festival has roots in remembering the dead, like many other cultures around the world. The Romans had a celebration called Feralia and in Latin America La Dia de Los Muertos honours deceased loved ones.

In this country, Halloween is usually an event where friends and family get together to have a party or attend local events.

La Dia de Los Muertos celebrates and remembers family and friends who have left this world.
La Dia de Los Muertos celebrates and remembers family and friends who have left this world.

Where you can celebrate the Pumpkin locally?

Buy It

You can buy locally grown pumpkins from North East Organic Growers or source from local farm shops such as The Green Shop in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Julian’s Veg at Kelso Garden Centre is also a good place to source local veg. Oxford Farm Shop also have pumpkins at their tea room.

The Black Futsu pumpkin is a rare heirloom plant originating in Japan.
The Black Futsu pumpkin is a rare heirloom plant originating in Japan.

You can also buy WhitMuir Squash from Whitmuir Farm in West Linton.

Make It

Pumpkin can be enjoyed in so many ways.

Pumpkin Soup topped with pumpkin seeds is a hearty meal
Pumpkin Soup topped with pumpkin seeds is a hearty meal

Why not make pumpkin soup with locally grown sage? Or how about the American classic pumpkin pie? Pumpkin is also delicious roasted and can be enjoyed as part of a warm salad.

You could use the seeds to make a pumpkin seed butter as a protein-rich alternative to nut butter.

For a classic seasonal drink, why not puree some pumpkin to make a pumpkin spiced latte at home? For the spice blend use a mixture of cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Delicious!

A warming drink with the taste of Autumn
A warming drink with the taste of Autumn

Best For Family:

Halloween Fun Day at Traquair House is a perfect event for all ages. Activities include tarot reading, magic shows, ghost stories in the woods and a creepy crawlies feeling and handling workshop! All visitors are encouraged to dress up to win best dressed in adult and children categories.

After a busy day taking part in activities and exploring the grounds, why not stop by the Garden Cafe for a Halloween-themed lunch.

While you’re visiting Traquair House why not buy a bottle of their famous Traquair House Ale?

Best if You Have Older Kids:

The Alnwick Garden is hosting a Twilight Spooky Trail suitable for kids over 12. All kids must be accompanied by an adult. The Spooky Trail includes a Spooky Walk where the garden, once a beautiful and enchanted place becomes a zombie-infested realm and The Scare Zone which is in the Bamboo Labyrinth, which gets a spooky makeover. Dare you venture in?

Best For Babies:

Why should babies have to miss out on activities this time of year? Baby Sensory Scottish Borders in Galashiels are hosting Baby Pumpkin, which allows babies to enjoy a sensory experience associated with Halloween and Bonfire Night. Activities include baby-friendly fireworks, a bonfire, bouncing pumpkins, and a magical pumpkin patch.

All babies are welcome. You just need to phone to book your space.

Best For Adults

Brocksbushes Farm in Corbridge organises a very popular Halloween event and this year The Creatures of the Corn is set to be bigger, better and scarier than ever before. This event is running for 13 nights starting on Friday 19th October.

It is a circus theme this year and the animals have broken from their shackles and looking for revenge. When arriving at Brocksbushes Farm be prepared to be faced with 4 zones of terror before entering the maze and once inside the maze to be hounded by a deluge of evil creatures.

Brocksbushes also hosts a family-friendly event The Greatest Pumpkin Show on Earth.

Are you a wimp or a warrior?

Pumped for the Parties

If you’re celebrating Halloween, or a similar celebration, this year, why not try somelocal sweets to add to the trick or treat bags too?

'Guising' has been part of the Western tradition since the Middle Ages
‘Guising’ has been part of the Western tradition since the Middle Ages

Have fun at many local events being held around Scottish Borders and Northumberland!

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References
  1. Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
  2. Samhain