If you are one of almost 30 million people in the UK who buy a pumpkin this Halloween, check our handy tips to reduce pumpkin waste so you are not just carving it for decoration: 7 out of 10 pumpkins carved for Halloween do not get eaten.
You can buy pumpkins and keep them for up to 6 months if stored correctly, in a cool room between 10-15C (50-60F), with good air flow, but here’s what else you could do!
Make Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin flesh is a good source of potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure. Peel and deseed a pumpkin, then cut it into chunks. Microwave the flesh on high for around 8 minutes in a bowl with a tablespoon of water, then once cool use a food processor to puree. Add 2 eggs, 25g butter, 200g plain flour, and 3 tablespoons of sugar to the food processor. Mix, then pour into a lightly oiled, hot frying pan. Flip after 2 minutes to cook the other side, and serve.
Make a Pumpkin Cocktail
Puree some pumpkin flesh and add it, together with ice, a shot of vodka, and a shot of whisky cream liquor, to a cocktail shaker. Shake, strain to serve, and add a dusting of nutmeg and cinnamon, and a squirt of cream on top.
Make Pumpkin Curry
The Indonesian Cook’s Lemongrass Pumpkin Curry with its bright orange colour and kick of spice will warm your soul.
Make Pumpkin Peel Crisps
If you have a smaller pumpkin with tender skin, peel off the skin and cut it into long, thin slices. Season with lots of salt, and set aside for 10 minutes before drizzing with olive oil and mixing well. Bake for 30 minutes at around 200C.
Eat the Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, which can aid a good night’s sleep. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and wash them in a sieve to get rid of any excess pulp. Boil the seeds for 10 minutes, then spread them out on a kitchen towel to dry. Once dry, mix the seeds in a bowl with a little olive oil and seasoning, then spread across a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes at around 180C. Allow them to cool, and you have your own hand supply of pumpkin seeds to snack on or add to recipes.
Save the Seeds
Save some of the dried seeds to use for sowing next year’s pumpkins. To be sure the seeds are completely dry before storage, leave them out on a paper towel or waxed paper for about a week to dry thoroughly. Store the seeds in a labelled, brown paper bag, in a cool, dry space, ready to sow next year.
Make a Hanging Bird Feeder
Cut a pumpkin in half, and scoop out the flesh and seeds to use in one of the ideas above. Pierce a hole in one end of the pumpkin flesh and loop through some garden twine to allow the pumpkin to hang outside. Fill the hollowed out inside with bird seed.
An alternative to making a pumpkin lantern for your doorstep, is to fill the hollowed out centre with compost and plants. Remember to bore a few drainage holes in the bottom. This living decoration should last for at least 2 weeks before the pumpkin starts to go soft – it can then be added to the compost heap.
Use it as a Body Scrub
Pureed, uncooked pumpkin, mixed with granulated sugar, a tablespoon of honey, and a drizzle of almond oil, makes a great body scrub, which should keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 3 days.
Once you have used the flesh and seeds in the kitchen, chop the skin into chunks to help it break down faster in the compost heap.