Coming up pumpkinsMarch 8th, 2023
Each autumn we eagerly await the moment our gardeners unveil the collection of pumpkins they’ve been tending to all summer.
Our Moestuin expert Darryl Combrinck has his hands full to ensure our pumpkin ladies maintain their glowing cheeks. “They have their own skincare routine,” he says. “In the beginning, we have to distract fruit flies from pricking the young pumpkins’ vulnerable skins to avoid warts and bad spots. Once they’re fully grown, the high summer heat can cause sun damage, so we cover them with straw to protect them until they’re ripe for the picking.”
At the height of pumpkin season, our chefs use these different types of gourds to satisfying effect in Babel Restaurant, from fritters for breakfast and julienned raw into salads, to preserved as relish and roasted with ice cream for dessert. You’ll also find them among other autumnal veg in our seasonal veggie boxes. They’re good for so much more than roasting or pureeing into traditional pampoenkoekies (although we’ll never say no thank you to those)!
We cultivate more than 30 pumpkin varieties on Babylonstoren, from cute little gourds like Daisy Gourd, Autumn Wings Blend and Gremlin Gourd to enormous showstopper pumpkins like Atlantic Giant, Musquée de Provence and Polar Bear.
Here are some of our chefs’ favourites:
Of all the varieties he tends to, the Turk’s turban (or monkey bums as they’re also called) is Darryl’s favourite. This variegated, double-decker pump is firm, sweet and beautiful to boot. Try roasting the pumpkin at 180°C for 20–30 minutes, scooping out the soft flesh and folding it into your favourite flapjack mix. Don’t discard the pips – caramelise them with brown sugar and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon for a crunchy garnish. You can also make your own pumpkin chips with any leftover pumpkin.
Rouge Vif D’Etampes
Meaning “vivid red” in French, this flat-shaped pump is also known as Cinderella. Its moderately sweet, orange flesh makes it an excellent choice for making fritters or pampoentert. You could also try your hand at making a pumpkin semifreddo – beat egg whites and honey together, and fold into the pureed pumpkin with plenty of spices before freezing for around 6–8 hours.
Babel Restaurant’s chefs love cooking with this mini butternut. Similar in shape and taste to its popular cousin, the honeynut is slightly sweeter, making it a great choice for roasting chunks for salads, or pickling with plenty of acidic flavours.
Long Island Cheese
This heirloom variety gets its name thanks to its resemblance to a wheel of cheese, although that’s where the similarities end. When cooked, Long Island Cheese is tender and creamy with a sweet, mildly earthy flavour. Use it to whip up your gran’s favourite pumpkin pie (or pampoentert as it’s known in Afrikaans).
In other parts of the world, these large, white pumps are known as Hubbard pumpkins, but on the southern tip of Africa, we refer to them as boerpampoene. The flat white boerpampoen has thick orange flesh and can be stored for long periods thanks to its tough skin, making the rooftops of farmhouses a popular storage spot. Boiled, steamed, roasted or grilled, it is a delicious variety perfect for soups and pickling. Its seeds are delicious when sprinkled into salads or mixed into bread.
RECIPE: PUMPKIN AND BUTTERMILK FLAPJACKS
Makes 8 large flapjacks
◗ 235 ml bran rich self-raising wheat flour
◗ 5 ml baking powder
◗ 5 ml ground cinnamon
◗ 120 ml treacle sugar
◗ 1 cup cooked pumpkin + ½ tsp turmeric
◗ 150 ml Babylonstoren water buffalo buttermilk or amasi + 2 egg yolks
◗ 2 egg whites (whipped to soft peak) + flapjack mix
◗ Babylonstoren extra virgin olive oil + Babylonstoren honey
◗ salt and ground cinnamon
COOKING THE PUMPKIN
◗ Preheat the oven to 180°
◗ Slice the pumpkin vertically. Remove the pips and keep in a bowl.
◗ Place half of the pumpkin on a baking tray and roast for 20-30 min.
(Keep the remaining half to make pumpkin chips.)
◗ When the pumpkin feels soft to the touch, it is cooked through.
◗ Allow to cool down completely. Scoop out all the pumpkin and place in a strainer to remove any excess water.
◗ Combine pumpkin, turmeric, buttermilk/amasi and egg yolks.
◗ Add the flapjack mix and lightly combine – do not overmix.
◗ Fold in the whisked egg white. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.
◗ In a large frying pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil.
Once hot, turn down to medium heat.
◗ Drop a spoonful of the mixture into the pan and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon. (If the mixture is too stiff, you can add a bit more buttermilk.)
◗ Fry only a few flapjacks at a time (you can use two pans). Turn over carefully when the mixture starts bubbling and fry on the other side.
◗ Once cooked and golden brown, place on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.
◗ Serve warm with butter and honey.