Lottie and Harry may now be in their teens but they both still love carving a creepy face on a pumpkin at Halloween. After all these years carving and cooking pumpkins, we thought we knew a thing or two about them. But when we started researching them, we were amazed by these peculiar pumpkin facts! We’d love to know how many you already knew!
1. Pumpkins are related to cucumbers, melons and luffas (the source of loofah scrubbing sponges used in bathrooms and kitchens).
Like all of the above, pumpkins and squash are members of the gourd family, and are technically fruits, rather than vegetables.
2. Uncut pumpkins can be stored up to three months in a dry dark cool place.
In fact, the longer you store them the sweet and nuttier the flavour becomes. Stock up on pumpkins now and you could be making fresh pumpkin soup until the end of the January!
3. There are hundreds of varieties of pumpkin.
Jack o’ Lantern is the best variety for carving, and the easiest for beginners to grow.
Cinderella pumpkins (so called because they look like they are about to magically transform into a carriage) are considered by many the finest for eating. The Kauai variety, on the other hand, contain seeds that are completely hull-less, which are great for toasting.
4. Plant Halloween pumpkin seeds the first week of June.
Most varieties take 85 to 125 days to mature so plant seeds in the first week of June to ensure they’re ready to harvest in plenty of time for Halloween. For us at Hillfarm, this means the weekend after the Suffolk Show so is easy to remember!
Pumpkin seeds can be planted outdoors under cloches but need a spot with full sun and good drainage.
5. Pumpkins are packed with antioxidants.
Beta-carotene, which gives pumpkins their orange colour, is a free-radical fighting antioxidant. Our bodies convert ingested beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin and eyes, while also strengthening the immune system.
6. Pumpkins are good for your hearing!
The high content of potassium in pumpkins can help lower blood pressure and protect against age-related hearing loss associated with drops in potassium levels in the body as we age.
7. Pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses.
You’d never guess that such small packages could contain so many key minerals and nutrients, including protein, zinc magnesium, manganese, copper. They’re also high in vitamin C and a powerful source of fibre.
8. Pumpkins are 80 – 90 % water.
Who would have thought that something so nutritional would be 80 – 90 % water? The high water content of pumpkins means they’re good for you while also being low in calories. Great news if you’re looking to offset the Halloween chocolate!
9. The female flower only opens for a day for pollination.
Female flowers are only receptive to pollen for about four hours. If pollination is successful in this short window, the pumpkin will continue to swell and grow. If not, it will shrivel and fall from the vine.
Both male and female flowers usually bloom early in the morning – and are delicious battered and fried in our rapeseed oil!
10. The world record weight for the largest pumpkin is 2,624lb!
The world record is currently held by Mathias Willemijns from Belgium, who smashed the previous record by more than 300 pounds in 2016. Brothers Stuart and Ian Paton from Hampshire hold the UK world record: their enormous 2,269lb pumpkin, which they watered with up to 100 gallons of water a day, was the star of the Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Netley, Hampshire.
If these pumpkin facts have given you an appetite, you’ll find plenty of recipe inspiration for both sweet and savoury dishes on the BBC Good Food website and don’t forget pumpkin tastes delicious when roasted in hillfarm cold pressed rapeseed oil!
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