Tag Archives: pumpkin

guy’s newsletter: talking pumpkins & putting people in boxes

A break in the weather this week should let us harvest the last of the carrots and potatoes, and make a start on the parsnips and swedes. In such a warm autumn it seems too early to acknowledge winter by sending you hardy veg, but I remind myself that it is November, and the shortest day is only six weeks away.

Many of you will have pink fir apple potatoes in your boxes this week and I apologise to those who miss out; their late maturity, combined with a susceptibility to blight means they are very hard to grow organically (some say impossible). After too many failures in mild, blight-ridden Devon, we grew them in cooler, drier Yorkshire with our partner Peter Richardson this year. He had a pretty good crop and we will definitely bully him into sowing more in 2015. Shaped more like ginger than a potato, pink fir apples are hard to beat for flavour; they are known mainly as a salad potato though I find them a little dry and prefer them roast. Whatever you do, don’t bother peeling them.

One night, stumbling home under a full moon and other influences in my first year as a grower, I had an out-of-body experience in my pumpkin patch; they glowed like lazy Belisha beacons and spoke to me. I have sown pumpkins ever since but sadly, in my sobriety, have never found them remotely communicative. I soon got fed up with packaging and transport often costing more than I was paid for the crop, so I decided I would rather give them away. Our first Pumpkin Day, designed to raise money for Oxfam, was almost 20 years ago. Last weekend we opened up our farms for the annual event and had an astonishing, terrifying, 6500 visitors; far more than expected. We raised lots of money for the charity Send a Cow but my greatest pride was in seeing the genuinely happy visitors and how amiably a leek puller could transform into a smiling director of parking, how a website manager could carve pumpkins with children or how willingly my slouching skater teenage son would clear tables. We must try harder not to consign people to boxes; most people have so much more potential than their jobs allow them to express. We are not an events company but I reckon we hold pretty good ones; it’s good to break out of our own specialist box now and then.

Guy Watson

kirsty’s blog – use your loaf

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In our house, my giant hound and I share different views on Hallowe’en and Bonfire night (or whatever you want to call them) – even before we get into the commercial nonsense debate.

I don’t like yo-yoing up and down to feed the trick or treaters, but he loves the attention every doorbell ringer gives him, even if they look like Freddy Krueger. I’m crackers for a firework, while he needs a sedative to get him through the season’s unidentifiable bangs.

Neither of us is that fussed about eating pumpkin though, particularly when there’s tastier squash around – however, if you took away an impossibly large orange orb from one of our Riverford Farm Pumpkin Days last weekend and you’re wondering what to do with all the innards once it’s carved, don’t dump them in the compost. Soup it up with curry spices or ginger to warm your hands in between lighting sparklers, or try this pumpkin and pecan loaf. The puréed pumpkin keeps the loaf moist and it’s easy to make, so it’s good for baking with the kids.

pumpkin & pecan loaf
To make your pumpkin purée, steam pieces of pumpkin flesh until tender. Leave in a colander to cool and drain off the excess moisture, then blitz in a food processor until smooth.

100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
200g light brown sugar
1 large egg
100g pecans, roughly chopped (or use walnuts)
250g self-raising flour
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
good pinch of salt
120ml milk
225g pumpkin purée

Butter a 1 litre loaf tin and line it with baking parchment. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat together until light and fluffy (use an electric hand mixer if you have one, it’s easier). Stir in the pecans and pumpkin purée. Add the flour and cinnamon and stir to combine (don’t over mix it). Stir in the milk. Pour into the tin. Bake at 180C for 50-60 mins, until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 mins. Turn out onto a cake rack and leave to cool completely or serve slightly warm, in thick slices.

veg of the month – squash and pumpkin

With the recent warm dry weather, our squash are developing good hard skins to store well over the coming months. Squash and pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with courgettes and marrows, but are distinguished by the fact that their fruits are harvested mature and can last very well, making them a useful staple through autumn and winter (and often beyond).

squash

storage and preparation
Squash are one of the few vegetables that like centrally heated houses. Keep them warm and dry and they can sometimes last through to the following year. Squash look attractive on a kitchen shelf, so even if you’re not a great fan, enjoy them for their decorative qualities. The downside is that they can be a nightmare to cut and peel; cut the bottom off with a strong sharp knife so you have a flat surface to work from. Butternut is the easiest variety to peel (try a good vegetable peeler) but if you have a thicker-skinned squash, you could roast it in segments with the skin still on, to be removed at the table.

cooking
Butternut is probably the best-known squash and works well for risotto or soup. Large pumpkins can be soapy and watery and are generally best used for Halloween lanterns. If you need cooked squash for a recipe, you could skip peeling it and instead cut it in half, roast and scoop out the flesh when soft; just don’t be tempted to roast it whole or it will explode. Squash is also a good choice for thrifty cooks. Roast the seeds in the oven for a few minutes for a moreish snack to serve with drinks. The inside trimmings can be used in veg stock to add vibrant colour to soups or risottos. Just add to other stock ingredients, simmer in enough water to cover for about an hour and strain through a sieve.