What are pumpkins?

Pumpkins are the most famous of all the winter squashes, and are most associated with Halloween lanterns. Inside the hard orange or yellow skin, the bright orange flesh is sweet and honied. They are a particularly good source of fibre, as well as a range of vitamins and minerals.

Read more about the health benefits of pumpkin and see our step-by-step guide on how to carve a pumpkin lantern for Halloween.

When are pumpkins in season?

British season runs from October to December.

Learn how to grow your own pumpkins from the experts at Gardeners’ World.

Choose the best pumpkins

Go for pumpkins that feel heavy for their size, with a smooth, firm skin. Smaller pumpkins tend to have more flesh.

How to prepare pumpkins

As pumpkins have very tough skins, some hard graft is needed to get into them. Put the squash on a thick tea towel to keep it steady, then use a large strong knife to cut it in half. It can be heavy going, so work in sections until you reach the bottom. If the skin is particularly thick, you may need to hammer the knife in with a rolling pin. Once one side is cut, turn the pumpkin round and cut down on the other side, until it's split in two. Scoop out the seeds and any stringy parts. If the pumpkin is particularly big, cut it into quarters then, using a small, sharp knife, pare off the skin (unless you plan to roast it, in which case the skin can stay on). Then cut into chunks or wedges as required.

Follow our steps for how to carve a pumpkin.

How to store pumpkins

Kept in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place, it will keep for several weeks. Once cut, it should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge, where it will keep for around a week.

How to cook pumpkins

Cut into chunks and bake or roast (30-40 mins) or boil (15-20 mins). Use to make soups, add to stews or mash as a side dish.

Get some ideas from our pumpkin recipe collection.

Alternatives to pumpkins

Try squash.