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What to do with your pumpkin after Halloween

Now that Halloween is over – the decorations are being packed up – we have some top tips for what to do with the decorations that you can’t keep until next year – pumpkins.

Whether you chose to decorate your pumpkin with drawings and stickers, used it in a display or carved into it, there are a few different things that you can do with your leftover pumpkin.

Making the most of your food is so important to help reduce our food waste and our impact on our environment as the process of growing, making, distributing, storing and cooking our food uses lots of energy, fuel and water – which in turn generates 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas levels.

Hubbub, a sustainable charity has found that approximately 12.8 million pumpkins, bought in the UK for decoration during Halloween, are likely to be left uneaten every year. We can change this – and do something good for our planet and our pockets – by making Halloween inspired recipes as part of our celebrations.

For uncarved pumpkins the options are endless – if you carved into a pumpkin and have left it out on your front step for a few days, it won’t be good to eat as it will have been exposed to bugs, dirt, candle wax, and bacteria — but there are still some options.

Check out our top tips below to give your pumpkin a second life – spooky!

 

Go all Alfred Hitchcock

…and feed ‘The Birds’ …and other local wildlife

Either cut off the top half of the carved pumpkin and turn it into a festive bird feeder by filling it with birdseed and hanging it from a tree in your garden (depending on how it has been carved you may want to line with newspaper first).

Or, if you pumpkin is still looking good, cut your pumpkin into small pieces for foraging animals, like squirrels and deer. You could even ring up and check with your local farm to see if they could use it as a treat for their goats and pigs.

 

I’m melting …well decomposing

One way to make sure that your pumpkin isn’t sent to landfill, is to repurpose it, in your own garden.

This is ideal for pumpkins that have been on display for a while and aren’t looking their best.

Chop your pumpkin into small bits and add it to the compost heap. This will provide your compost with a healthy dose of nitrogen as it decomposes – although this should be balanced out with something like leaves, newspaper or wood ash.

Top tip: Make sure to remove the seeds first, as they can germinate and start to grow within your compost pile. Plus, there is even more you can do with the seeds…

 

Seed the day

...and roast the pumpkin seeds.

Whether you kept them from your carving or have a whole pumpkin left over, the seeds are a great healthy snack as they are packed full of nutrients including zinc, vitamin E and fibre, and will help ward off winter colds.

Separate the seeds from the stringy insides of the pumpkin, rinse well and then lay them out on a flat sheet to dry. Toss them with a little butter or olive oil, sprinkle with salt (if you like), and roast until golden brown — this will take about 35 minutes. 

Top tip: As well as snacking, the seeds are the perfect ingredient for pumpkin seed pesto, or as a seasonal addition to guacamole or hummus.

 

Before attempting any of the recipes, make sure to check your pumpkin is ok for eating. To do this, check its bottom. If the bottom is soft and or is leaking liquid – it’s not going to be good to use but you could still use the seeds (if you saved those) or compost it.

Whilst you can eat any variety of pumpkin or squash, including carving pumpkins, if it tastes extremely bitter, stop eating. This bitterness is a sign of high levels of cucurbitacins which is a minor possibility in some squashes. 

 

Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

…whether it’s made in a cauldron or the conventional pan, boiling up the insides of a pumpkin (if you have not carved it – or you if you saved the insides of it) to make a stock is the perfect base for lots of different pumpkin recipes including soups.

For a simple stock, use the insides of the pumpkin (everything that you carved out) along with any other vegetables (onion, carrot, celery and garlic work really well) and cover with water to boil/ simmer for an hour.

After you have left it for an hour and stirred the mixture, simply strain the vegetables and you have your stock that can be used right away or frozen for future use. Or mash/blend everything up and have it as soup.

 

Ready, Set, Bake

Go the extra step and go all Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood with any uncarved and whole pumpkins by cooking or baking with them.

Pumpkin is a fruit so it can be cooked and eaten as part of a hearty and healthy meal and eating it is a great way of making sure it doesn’t go to waste.

Common pumpkins that we use for carving have been bred for size and colour rather than for taste so if you have one of these larger uncarved pumpkins, these are better for baked goods as the addition of fat and sugar will enhance the pumpkin flavour. 

Smaller pumpkins, like the ones you might use in a display, can be used for a savoury dish or something for those with a sweeter tooth.

Here are just some things that you could do with your pumpkin…

You can find even more pumpkin recipes on the Love Food Hate Waste website including granola muffins, lasagne, spicy soup, risotto and brownies.

Watch the below video to see Lagom Chef (aka Martyn Odell) explain and show you how to prepare a whole pumpkin for eating – seeds, chunks, insides and all.

Find even more tips on how to make the most out of your food and reduce your waste, not just at Halloween but all year round, by visiting the Love Food Hate Waste website.