With just a few days left until Halloween, heading out to pick your own pumpkin is a lovely way to enjoy the great outdoors. With more and more pick-your-own pumpkin patches popping up in Dorset, it makes for a great half term activity, with farms adding fun attractions to their plots each year. We’ve rounded up some of the best in the county, plus tips on how to use your yummy squash once you’ve done the obligatory carving!
Dorset's Best Pumpkin Patches
This is a firm favourite at Dorset Tea (you may have seen us mention them in previous blogs). The farm is nestled right on the border of Dorset and Hampshire, just outside Christchurch. Upon arrival you can’t miss their fabulous display, featuring not just pumpkins, but a variety of squashes of all sorts of colours and sizes. If you’re heading there for a serious haul (or simply have little ones who would prefer a lift) then grab one of their carts and stroll down to the two fields full of pumpkins! They’ve been pre-cut making it easier for children to pick them up (or roll). Afterwards the kids can clamber on the tractor in the play area while you visit their solar powered bakery for some seriously good treats and a cup of tea!
New for 2021 is Farmer Palmer’s pumpkin patch. This is the place for you if you’re looking for some fun half term plans, as first and foremost it’s a farming attraction. With farm animals to meet, hand-feeding experiences, pig racing, tractor-trailer rides and extensive play areas it’s a whole day out in itself. Half term tickets must be booked in advance and they have a week of spooky Halloween fun planned, including the new pumpkin patch (which must be booked in addition to entrance tickets). The farm is located about four miles from Dorset’s lovely riverside town, Wareham. If you have any energy left it’s well worth taking a wander through town where you’ll find some lovely independent shops and great eateries. Or stroll along the River Frome and surrounding areas where you’ll be surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful views – classic Dorset scenes!
Bincombe Bumps Pumpkins
Grab your wellies and head to West Farm, Bincombe for an autumnal day out where you’ll be warmly welcomed by the owners. As well as pumpkin picking they have a fun display and photo opportunity with ‘pumpkin man’, an ‘a-maize-ing’ catapult, archery, a play area and face painting! Located halfway between Dorchester and Weymouth, you’re within easy reach of two of Dorset’s most interesting spots. Dorchester, Dorset’s county town, has an array of museums, art galleries, historic sites as well as plentiful cafes to refuel. Head south and you’ll reach Weymouth – perfect for family seaside fun whatever the weather!
Dorset Country Pumpkins
This family run farm, located close to the chocolate-box village of Milton Abbas, just outside Blandford Forum, is great place to grab a pumpkin! Taking a snap among the vast patch would make a great picture in itself but the family have added brilliant decorations for extra fun photo opportunities (think hay bale Draculas)! And if you’re feeling peckish, Dorset Lamb (part of Fishmore Hill Farm, just down the road) are on site too, allowing you to try locally produced food and support two small businesses in one go. If you’re visiting the area for the first time it’s well worth taking a stroll through the village of Milton Abbas to see some classic Dorset scenery.
The perfect carving
If you’re more of a pro at carving a Sunday roast than a Halloween pumpkin then help is on hand! Dorset Country Pumpkins has a great step by step guide on their website, but even better than that are their handy pumpkin face templates which you can download for free. In the past it was actually turnips that were used. Ghastly faces resembling demons and devils were carved into them and candles placed inside – they were known as ‘punkies’ or ‘Jack o Lanterns’. Luckily for us the more American tradition of using pumpkins rather than turnips took hold here – they’re a lot softer and easier to carve than hard turnips!
How to avoid pumpkin waste
With the growing popularity of pumpkin picking, the waste associated with it is also something that has been more widely discussed in recent years. Hubbub reports that just under half of all pumpkins picked in the UK end up in the bin after being carved – that’s approximately 35 million pumpkins! Many shops label their pumpkins as ‘carving pumpkins’ and often people don’t realise that they are in fact edible. Hubbub are so passionate about reducing waste that they have even started a Pumpkin Rescue campaign and have loads of great ways to make the most of your pumpkin! Here at Dorset Tea we care deeply about our planet and take sustainability seriously. Here are some great ideas that we have come across that will allow you to enjoy every single part of your pumpkin!
Keep the seeds
When hollowing out your pumpkin, set the seeds aside. They are delicious toasted and can be eaten as a snack on their own or added to salads, cooking and baking. Alternatively, dry them out and put them out for the birds.
Use it in cooking and baking
The flesh of a pumpkin (and other squash varieties) is delicious and really versatile – it can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. From pumpkin soup and curries to yummy cakes, cookies and pies, there are tonnes of great recipes that will allow you to use up this great veg! As absolute afternoon tea fiends, we love the look of some of these sweet bakes – serve with your favourite cup of Dorset Tea and enjoy! For added autumnal flavours why not try one of our yummy fruit infusions? Dorset Apple Cake Tea brings you all the scrummy flavours of the local delicacy, as does our indulgent Blackberry Syllabub tea.
Pumpkin Scones - A lovely twist on a classic afternoon scone from Delicious Magazine!
Halloween Pumpkin Cake – A clever tray bake recipe from BBC Good Food, similar to a carrot cake, which uses up your leftover pumpkin flesh. Yum!
Vegan Pumpkin Pie – A traditional thanks giving dessert from the USA. Pastry filled with warming spiced pumpkin – how could we resist this autumn treat?
Make a bird feeder
It’s not just the flesh from the inside of the pumpkin that can be used. Once you have finished with your glowing ghoul, cut you pumpkin into slices. Cut holes into each slice and thread them onto some string or twine. Hang them up near you usual bird feeders or from trees for the birds to feast on!
Whether you celebrate Halloween or simply want to try your hand at pumpkin carving or a yummy pumpkin recipe, we hope you have a fun week. Tag us in your photos if you’re out and about pumpkin picking in Dorset and let us know your favourite spot for your Halloween haul. Tweet us @dorset_tea or find us on instagram @dorsetteauk