Carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that is thought to have originated in Ireland in the 19th century.

Originally, jack-o'-lanterns were made out of turnips or ‘mangel wurzels’ but when Irish immigrants arrived in America, they discovered the pumpkin and a new Halloween ritual was born.

The lanterns were thought to represent the spirits or supernatural beings, or were used to ward off evil spirits. For example, sometimes they were used by Halloween ‘guisers’ (disguising yourself with a mask) to frighten people, and sometimes they were set on windowsills to keep harmful spirits out of the home.

In the United States, pumpkins go hand-in-hand with the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving.

An orange fruit harvested in October, this nutritious and versatile plant features flowers, seeds and flesh that are edible and rich in vitamins. The flesh is used to make soups, desserts and breads, and it is an American tradition to include pumpkin pie in Thanksgiving meals.

Don’t throw out the pumpkin flesh when you hollow it out to make a lantern. Use it to make delicious, warming soup for those cold evenings, or bake a pie to satisfy everyone’s hunger for something sweet and seasonal.

You can even toast the seeds with a sprinkling of olive oil, sea salt, and chili flakes, for a tasty snack.

Simple, tasty, traditional pumpkin pie

Ingredients: 750g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks 350g sweet shortcrust pastry plain flour, for dusting 140g caster sugar ½ tsp salt ½ tsp fresh nutmeg, grated 1 tsp cinnamon 2 eggs, beaten 25g butter, melted 175ml milk 1 tbsp icing sugar. 

Method: In a large saucepan, cover the pumpkin flesh with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins or until tender. Drain and let it cool.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, and use it to line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

Chill in the fridge for 15 mins, and heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

When chilled, line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 mins until the base is pale golden and crisp.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, and increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and half the cinnamon. Mix in the beaten eggs, melted butter and milk, then add to the pumpkin purée and stir to combine.

Pour into the tart shell and cook for 10 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Continue to bake for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.

Leave to cool, then remove the pie from the tin. Mix the remaining cinnamon with the icing sugar and dust over the pie. Serve chilled.