Every halloween millions of pumpkins go to waste because people don’t know what to do with leftover pumpkin. The Guardian estimates that the UK will throw away 8 million leftover pumpkins after halloween this year, the exact same figure as estimated last year!! This sadly shows that the UK has not improved it’s attitude towards pumpkins.
A lot of the waste is due to many of us in the UK regarding pumpkins as a seasonal prop or decoration rather than what it truly is, a yummy and nutritious fruit! We have created this blog post to show you what to do with every part of a leftover pumpkin with the intention to reduce the amount of pumpkin waste.
Pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family otherwise known as gourds, this family includes squashes, melons and cucumbers. Much like it’s relatives, pumpkins can be eaten in a multitude of ways.
Alas, we need to take after our North American cousins and start to love all things pumpkin!
Pumpkin fun does not have to stop once the candle burns out!
Make fantastic pumpkin food:
There is a plethora of tantalising pumpkin recipes out there in which you can just cut up the pumpkin flesh and use it as is. We love these fantastic recipes:
Alternatively, substitute sweet potato & butternut squash for pumpkin:
Trade sweet potato & butternut squash for pumpkin in your favourite recipes. A couple of our favourite dishes to swap are:
Peanut butter stew from Oh She Glows which usually requires sweet potato. (This is our all time favourite recipe).
Make pumpkin puree from the flesh
In order to make pumpkin puree you can either use a pressure cooker as illustrated by the lovely Zero Waste Chef here.
Or, alternatively you can make pumpkin puree by roasting the pumpkin/squash in the oven. (This is our preferred method as we don’t have a pressure cooker).
Note: We used a butternut squash to demonstrate as we had one leftover but the same method can be used for squashes and pumpkins despite them looking and tasting slightly different.
Oven cooked puree:
Preheat oven to 190 Celsius.
- Slice the pumpkin/squash in half or into quarters. Remove the guts and seeds – don’t bin these! Set them aside for later.
- Rub a splash of oil of your choice (we used olive) on to each open side of the pumpkin.
- Place the pumpkin/squash flesh side down onto a baking tray that is either; greased, covered with greaseproof paper, or a reusable silicone baking mat.
- Bake for 30-45 minutes. Check that the pumpkin is ready by piercing the flesh with a fork. Leave pumpkin to cool.
- Once the pumpkin is cool enough to touch, separate the flesh from the skin. Make sure to put the skin in your compost!
- Now it’s time for the squishing and squashing (aha!). We found that using a food processor was the simplest way to create the smoothest silky puree, however if you do not have a processor at home you can puree the flesh by hand using either a fork or a potato masher.
Store this orange velvet puree in a glass jar, tupperware container or silicone bag for future use!
Ideas to use your pumpkin puree:
Add to porridge
Make handy pumpkin cubes by putting puree into an ice cube tray. You can add this nifty cubes to a variety of dishes.
Harvest and keep the pumpkin seeds
- Separate seeds from the stringy guts by hand.
- Plop seeds into a water filled vessel, for instance a glass bowl or measuring jug.
- Whilst in the water, the seeds will float and the stringy gunky bits will fall to the bottom of the container. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Once the seeds and stringy bits have separated, scoop out the seeds and place them onto a towel. We found that getting the seeds out with our hands, then pushing the seeds off our hands with a spoon onto the towel worked the best as it drained the water and made sure no flesh was hiding on the seeds.
- Leave to dry.
You can use these seeds raw, sprinkled on salads, soups and/or cereals.
You could plant the seeds!
You can also roast the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are even more delicious when cooked and the topping possibilities are endless. Why not try out different toppings? These can be savoury or sweet!
To create roasted & flavoured pumpkin seeds:
1 batch of pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon olive oil or melted margarine/butter
Toppings of your choice
Salt and Pepper:
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
Autumn spice sugar:
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 150 celsius.
- Following on from the harvesting instructions above, make sure to leave the seeds to dry for as long as possible. The drier the seed, the crispier the possible outcome!
- Combine your chosen toppings in a separate bowl.
- Toss the seeds in your choice of oil or margarine/butter.
- Sprinkle over the toppings of our choice. Stir the mixture generously to ensure that every seeds is coated.
- Lay the coated pumpkin seeds onto a baking tray covered with either a silicone baking mat (for a zero waste option) or greaseproof paper. Make sure seeds are in one singular layer.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Stir occasionally and keep a close eye on the seeds as they can burn easily,
- Once cooked, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Make vegetable stock:
To utilise the stringy gutsy bit of the pumpkin and/or the pumpkin skin, you can make vegetable stock.
Simply collect vegetable scraps in a freezable container until the container is about full then boil in a large pot of water and drain.
Make pumpkin crisps:
Now, I bet when you read the title “What to do with leftover pumpkin” you didn’t think that it was possible to create something edible out of the skin!
We were amazed when we found out that you can make scrumptious pumpkin crisps from the pumpkin skin!
Follow Home Grown Fun’s instructions here if you’re craving pumpkin crisps!
Compost what you haven’t used
Finally, make sure to compost whatever parts of the pumpkin you haven’t used.
If you have chickens, why not feed your leftovers to them for an autumnal treat?!
The vast amount of pumpkin wastage that occurs throughout the Western world after Halloween is an unfortunate consequence of a lack of knowledge surrounding the flexibility of pumpkins as well as the public misconception of pumpkins being pure decoration!
We hope that this article has demonstrated the multitude of ways that every part of a leftover pumpkin can be used & transformed into something delicious.
Please spread the word and tell others what to do with leftover pumpkin in order to help reduce the amount of unnecessary pumpkin wastage!
If you’d like to reduce your waste even further:
Have you tried out any of the ideas above or have a great tip you’d love to share?
Do you have any questions about this blog post?
Please comment down below, we would love to hear from you!