Bonfire night is almost upon us, and it is time to think about how you might be able to celebrate 5th November in style. There are a huge range of different ways that you could use polytunnel produce to feed your guests and to set the mood. To inspire you to enjoy your evening, here are some ideas that are sure to set off some fireworks:
Savoury Recipes for Bonfire Night
First of all, let’s take a look at some of the warming savoury recipes that will spark some interest, and keep you and your family and friends warm if you are heading outside to see a firework display or enjoy a bonfire in your garden.
Bonfire Night Soups
To start off your 5th November meal, how about some spicy soup? The hot and fiery ingredients are sure to make sure things go with a bang. There are plenty of great soups that you could consider using ingredients that you are likely to have at this time of year. For example:
- A fiery tomato soup with chillies and coriander.
- A pumpkin or squash soup (curried, with ginger, chilli peppers, lemongrass and coconut milk).
- Spicy lentil and root vegetable soup (with cumin, dried chilli and garlic).
Bonfire Night Main Courses
On a cold evening, having a full stomach can help to keep you warm and happy. Satisfying and stodgy autumn or winter warmers that are great for bonfire night include:
- Cottage pie (with a base of root vegetables and leafy greens, topped with creamy mashed potato).
- Vegetable pasties (portable food for eating outdoors if you wish). Fill your pastry cases with carrots, onion, potato, and whatever other seasonal vegetables you have to hand.
- Peppers or squash stuffed with a creamy wild rice risotto and plenty of herbs and seasoning.
Savoury Snacks for Bonfire Night
Whether or not you are serving a main meal for family or friends this Bonfire Night, you should consider making some savoury snacks to enjoy while you watch the fireworks or the flickering flames. Examples of snacks that you could make this year using produce you’ve grown in your polytunnel include:
- Roasted seeds (such as pumpkin or squash seeds).
- Savoury muffins (for example, carrot and cardamon, butternut squash, or cheese and apple).
- Vegetable crisps (using carrot, beetroot and other root vegetables as well as potatoes).
Of course, these are just a few of the many delicious savoury treats that you can make using produce from your polytunnel at this time of the year.
Sweet Recipes for Bonfire Night
Of course, there are also plenty of sweet recipes to consider that will allow you to make use of the produce you have grown in your polytunnel and preserved over the course of the year. Again, there are plenty of recipes that you could choose from. But why not have a little fun and create some themed desserts and snacks for the 5th of November? Here are a few ideas that you could consider serving as dessert for a meal on Bonfire night, or for snacks for a Guy Fawkes Night get together:
Bonfire Night Desserts
Remember, all those calories will help you to stay warm while you are spending time outdoors after dark. So this could be the perfect time to forget about calorie counting and treat yourself a little. Forget about healthy choices for once and go wild – enjoy some sweet treats to fend off the cold. Of course, you could use home-grown ginger and other ingredients to make a home-made parkin, but if you want to try something a little different, here are some other themed Bonfire night dessert ideas that you could consider:
- A bonfire jam tart. (Fill a pastry case with some of your homemade preserves to represent the burning embers of a bonfire, then top your tart with pastry ‘logs’ to make it resemble a fire pit, perhaps also with some ash and embers of crushed almonds.
- Make a toffee apple cake to evoke the flavours of the toffee apples of your childhood while creating a more grown up and sophisticated effect for a Bonfire night soiree. Layer an apple sponge with apple butter, apple slices and toffee cream, and top with a toffee sauce.
- Create a red beetroot cake and top your concoction with chocolate flakes to represent your bonfire. Pipe fruit-infused buttercream in towering spires on top to make the flames.
Of course, there are also plenty of portable sweet treats that you could enjoy while you are out and about at a fireworks display or enjoying a roaring bonfire in your neighbourhood. You could keep things simple and just toast a few marshmallows over the flames. But if you want to try something a little different (and show off the produce you have grown) here are a few suggestions to keep everyone happy and fortified throughout the evening:
- Fruit leathers (made using autumn berries from your polytunnel and elsewhere in your garden).
- Apple fudge (using home-made apple butter, coconut flakes, and honey).
- Blackberry (or other autumn berries) and chocolate brownies. (Using harvested fruit and your favourite chocolate brownie recipe.)
Creating a Guy
You can also have a bit of fun using things from your polytunnel to create the guy for your traditional bonfire. Create Guy Fawkes’s arms and legs from pruned branches from fruit trees or shrubs, for example, and stuff his torso with dry plant matter collected when you cleared out your summer crops to make way for your winter ones. You could even consider using a pumpkin or something similar to make the head for your effigy – perhaps one that has rotten, or which has been damaged in some way.
Pumpkin or Squash Lanterns
Even though Halloween is over, you could still carve pumpkins or squash from your polytunnel. Rather than carving spooky faces, consider simply carving them to make some lanterns that can be hung in trees in your garden, placed around the perimeter of a bonfire area, or carried with you when you venture outside after dark.
Use Pumpkins to Safely Set off Fireworks
One final way to use those old Halloween pumpkins from your polytunnel is to use them as receptacles in which to place your fireworks preparatory to setting them off. Simply fill a large pumpkin with sand and stand your small garden fireworks upright in it before lighting the blue touch paper and retreating to a safe distance. (Make sure you are safety conscious, and keep water on hand at all times.)
There are plenty of ways to use up the autumn produce, and preserved summer produce that is available at this time of the year. You can use a range of home-grown produce both in your kitchen and in other ways this Bonfire night.
Whatever you do this Bonfire night, remember to look out for wildlife. Make sure you check your bonfire thoroughly before lighting it, to make sure no creatures have moved in, and be conscious of the other creatures who are trying to share your space. Remember, the better able you are to create good biodiversity in your garden, the easier it will be to continue to grow plenty of produce in your polytunnel or elsewhere in your garden for years to come.
Share good Bonfire night recipes for savoury and sweet treats. Share your tips for other ways to use polytunnel produce on Bonfire night. Let us know how you plan to incorporate your home-grown produce into your 5th November plans in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.