There is a growing trend for mini pumpkins with restaurants using them as edible and decorative additions, traders at New Covent Garden Market have reported.
Squash varieties such as Gem, Delicata, Casperita and Buffy Ball, as well as Munchkin, Wee B, Sweet Lightening and Sweet Dumpling pumpkins are gaining in popularity with chef customers.
Usage has peaked due to the striking look of some of the unusual squash varieties, as well as being seasonally relevant at the moment.
Oliver Gladwin, co-founder of The Shed, Rabbit and Nutbourne, said: “Pumpkins and squash are a very versatile, autumnal vegetable.
“In my restaurants we operate a strict no wastage policy so my favourite type is a onion squash as you can use all of it. I use the starchy skin to create pumpkin gnocchi, served in all three of my restaurants, the flesh is full of juicy moisture for cocktails and soups and the seeds can be toasted and put into salads. I also sometimes use the whole squash to serve cheesy pearl barley risotto in as a fantastic winter warmer.”
Caroline Hall, co-owner at boutique catering company Rocket Food said: “I first discovered mini pumpkins at New Covent Garden Market.
“Our head of creative is there most days and is always on the lookout for inspiration. They’re brilliant for autumnal events as they are so seasonal. They instantly set the scene and they’re very versatile, with fabulous colour too.”
Rob Kirby, chef director at contract caterer Lexington, said: “Our pumpkin-based dishes are particularly popular at this time of the year, with Halloween approaching. In fact the sales of our pumpkin dishes last year doubled across some of our restaurants. The pumpkin risotto is a particular hit with our customers, as is our pumpkin latte.”