Once the forgotten, unwanted runt of the root vegetable litter, turnips are now set to have a Halloween ‘moment’ after English Heritage encouraged carvers to pick them over pumpkins.
One of the biggest pumpkin suppliers in the UK has warned that heavy rain in August has damaged large pumpkins that grew early in the season.
‘Retailers don’t take any fruits with minor blemishes or soft spots at these progress into full-blown issues in the depot networks and in the ambient temperature of stores, where they metamorphose into pumpkin soup,’ Jon Barfoot, commercial director of fruit and vegetable supplier Barfoot, told The Grocer. ‘So yields will be about 50 per cent of the originally planned crop.’
But before you panic about your spectacular squash plans being ruined, the humble turnip is here to save the day, a vegetable which was once the carving canvas of choice for All Hallows revellers.
British people carved ghoulish faces into turnips to scare spirits from their doors long before the pumpkin became the Halloween vegetable of choice.
The tradition emerged from a folk tale about a man named Jack who, after trying to trick the devil, was forced to roam the earth with only a burning coal inside a hollowed out turnip – or the original Jack o’lantern.
During the 19th Century, people moving to America took this tradition with them, but soon found that pumpkins were far easier to carve.
Dr Michael Carter, an English Heritage historian, said: ‘I don't think turnips are going to replace pumpkins, they are more difficult to carve, but hopefully people will remember the turnip and all our other rich traditions this Halloween.’
Enthusiastic turnip-adopters have taken to Instagram to show off their handiwork, while English Heritage have coined the catchy hashtag #TeamTurnip.
Turnips, so hot right now.