Two Aberdeenshire women have written Scotland’s a new pumpkin cookery book in a bid to celebrate this seasonal ingredient usually enjoyed at Halloween.
The Pumpkin Patch Cookbook: Forty tasty recipes celebrating the magic of pumpkin in the kitchen was written by Aberdeenshire pumpkin patch owner Jenny Fyall and illustrated by Annie Grant, who studied botanical drawing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.
Every year about 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin are thrown away in the UK alone. The duo believes if more people knew how delicious pumpkin can be, and its health benefits, fewer people would waste such a valuable food source.
Just 100g of pumpkin provides 170 per cent of an adult’s daily recommended allowance of Vitamin A and contains 0.1g of fat.
Jenny, who runs a 10-acre smallholding and hosts an annual pumpkin patch attended by thousands of visitors, said: “Over the years I have come to realise how amazing pumpkin is. It really is a magical ingredient because it can be used in a such a variety of different recipes.
“I think it is arguably the most versatile of any fruit and vegetable.
"You could use carrot in a cake or in a stew, but pumpkin can be used in everything from a traybake to a tagine, as well as in a smoothie or a coffee, the seeds can be roasted and even the skin can be added to a bread mix.
“It can form the basis of every course of a four-course meal: nibbles, starter, main, pudding and even the drink.”
Jenny, a keen home cook, created the recipes during lockdown. She tested out each creation on her husband and two young children and only those receiving the thumbs up from everyone made it into print.
Annie, an artist from Aberdeenshire, illustrated the book, taking inspiration from her training in botanical drawing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, where she achieved a distinction.
She said: “The aim was to bring the recipes to life through the illustrations, and also to celebrate pumpkins as the beautiful, living fruits they are, with their spectacular leaves and vines.
"They come in so many colours, from a dark green, to deep orange and even a silvery blue, so they were a real joy to draw.”
Jenny moved to Aberdeenshire from Edinburgh eight years ago, set up Udny Pumpkins after a friend could not find a local pumpkin patch to visit with her children.
She said: “Cooking with our pumpkins instead of throwing them in the bin is one small way we can tackle food waste.
"It’s so much fun to celebrate Halloween by carving a pumpkin, but there’s really no need to throw it away afterwards. Why not carve it but also use it to create some delicious food and have a spectacular Halloween meal?”
Each year Jenny opens the pumpkin patch to visitors who can choose their Halloween pumpkin, visit friendly animals on her smallholding, eat pumpkin soup and play on hay bales.
She also invites children to visit in the spring to plant their own pumpkins and hold a baby chick and hosts a meet-the-bees session once a year when people can peek inside a bee hive.
She hopes that by opening up her smallholding it will enable visitors, especially children, to learn about where food comes from and form an appreciation for the natural environment.
The recipes in The Pumpkin Patch Cookbook are aimed at those who are looking for fuss-free food to suit everyone from children to grandparents.
Many are quick to whip up for a school snack or midweek dinner, and there are a few fancier recipes too aimed at celebrations or dinner parties.
The Pumpkin Patch Cookbook is available to buy from the Udny Pumpkins website or from Amazon for £8.