By Stefan Spence
Seasonal foods have changed from their old harvesting roots. Gone are the days of waiting for a vegetable to reach its allotted time of year. Instead, that section of the supermarket is devoted to whichever festival is approaching. Mince pies for Christmas, chocolate Easter eggs, barbecues for the summer, pumpkins for Halloween. It’s also a large part of building excitement for the holidays. Perhaps you have carved out the scary faces already and your plans are in place. Just don’t miss out on these extra opportunities to get the most out of those edible decorations.
Soups, roasts and seeds
Pumpkins are a solid basis for a variety of soups. Whether it’s spiced with ginger, onions, carrot, and cumin, or supplemented with coconut milk, shallots, and garlic; if you’ve dug out the centre already, then a thick soup is a natural conclusion. Having said that, the pumpkin seeds are worth keeping as well. Roast pumpkin is a solid support alongside roast potatoes, and popping the seeds in with them partway through can add another layer of crunch to give you one-up on your housemates. Do check the timings beforehand though – crunchy is not an excuse for it being burnt!
Cakes, pies and hummus
Maybe Bake-Off has inspired you to stock up on flour and sugar. Try a pumpkin cake or pumpkin pie; you can even convince your friends it’s healthy. Or you could take down your housemate’s hummus-hubris by showing them up with a pumpkin hummus. Is there anything this vegetable can’t be cooked in?
By now you’re wondering why I’m so set on putting pumpkins in recipes that were perfectly fine without it. Well, if you haven’t noticed, all those pumpkins magically disappear after the end of October. The shelves turn around for Christmas and another countdown begins. Except those pumpkins don’t just disappear. Supermarkets are all too willing to send them to landfill in favour of better-selling products. It has been estimated that 18,000 tonnes are chucked in a year (Hubbub Foundation). That is an outrageous number which cannot be justified, and surely we can agree that it is a waste. A waste of good food, a waste of the hard work that went in to growing them, and a waste of all the effort transporting them across the country.
To acknowledge the issue and raise awareness of ways to tackle food waste, a local community interest company, called REfUSE, is planning an event to feed 1000 people with leftover pumpkins.
Find yourself in Market Square on the 11th November or search for the event ‘Feed the 1000’ and you can see and even taste it for yourself.
Photograph: Emma Taylor