Did you know that Britons alone waste approximately 13 MILLION pumpkins every Halloween?
Before we dig in to how to make your pumpkin zero waste, let’s look at some pumpkin trivia:
- Pumpkins are actually a fruit
- Pumpkins grow on every continent except Antarctica
- The worlds heaviest (recorded) pumpkin weighed over 2600 lbs (1179 kg) grown in Germany
- Pumpkins take 90-120 days to grow
- There are more than 45 varieties of pumpkin ranging from red and orange to green and white.
Have you learnt something new there? I know I did when researching.
And now let’s get on with the main content of this blog – how to make your pumpkin picking season as low waste as possible. Here we go.
Firstly, let’s talk buying pumpkins. Obviously the very best thing you can do would be to grow your own but, not everyone has the space to do this. So the next best is to buy locally. And by this, I don’t mean your local supermarket – I mean a local farmer. Pick Your Own Pumpkin patches seem to be getting more popular by the year and heading to a local farmer not only supports a business but it also means that the pumpkins you pick have a lower carbon footprint as they’re not being ferried around the country.
When you’re choosing your pumpkins – don’t go overboard. A pumpkin display does look great but you really don’t need 10 pumpkins for a 4 person household! Choose carefully and try to make sure that you know what you’re going to do with the pumpkins before you take them home!
Now, you’ve got your pumpkin hoard home and it’s time to make them come alive. But even at this stage you can make conscious and well thought out choices.
This year we picked 4 pumpkins, 1 each. The girls were super excited and wanted to carve them as soon as we got home. We made an agreement to just carve one straight away as Halloween was still 2 weeks away and, once carved, you’ll be lucky to get a week out of your pumpkin before it starts to wilt and look not so great. As it’s really mild in the UK this October, I’m guessing my pumpkin (yes, it was mine that was sacrificed), won’t make it until next weekend.
So, we carved one (I’ll tell you what we did with it in a minute), left one plain and the other 2 we decorated in alternative ways. The smaller one we drew a face on with some sharpies and the big one we wrapped with a bandage to look like a Mummy. This isn’t absolutely zero waste as the bandage will need to be binned but it looks cool and to me it made more sense than wasting a whole pumpkin.
The 3 that are uncarved, I’m hoping will last a good month or more and we can slowly work our way through them after Halloween. We will store them in the garage where it is dry and cool and they could even last up to 2 months.
With the pumpkin we carved I made sure that there was now waste. It was a little time consuming but absolutely worthwhile and I honestly recommend that you give some pumpkin recipes a go.
My Hubby is always on carving duty as I am no good at it and usual slice too much out or cut my hand open. So once he had scraped the seeds out and as much flesh as he could – I was given a bowl of stickiness!
I decided to roast the seeds so first separated them from the flesh and gave them a wash. This took a bit of time but only about 15 minutes. I lay them on a baking tray with reusable baking parchment, popped a bit of salt, pepper and paprika on them and the popped them in the oven (120c ish) for 2-3 hours. They are absolutely delicious – in fact I’m nibbling on them whilst I write this! You can put lots of different seasonings on the seeds or leave them plain to go in granola or top yoghurt for a healthy snack. Once cooled, store in an air tight container and they last 3-5 days.
With the flesh, I decided to make a Pumpkin Pie. This isn’t something any of us had eaten before but there was a recipe in a local magazine so I decided to give it a go. Oh my word! I cannot for the next pumpkin to be carved so I can make more! It last 24 hours and even my husband and girls ate it and they are usually super fussy with things like that! It had the texture of a custard tart but all the amazing warmth and cosiness of winter. Nutmeg and cinnamon are a heavenly combination and it is sweet and tasty. 100% you need to try making one if you’ve not before, you won’t be disappointed.
You can also make pumpkin soup or cookies or a whole host of other things. Just search for recipes and you’ll be spoilt for choice.
So, from pumpkin number 1, the only ‘waste’ I had was the skin from the bits that had been carved. These went into the bokashi bin and will be added to the compost in a few weeks.
Once this pumpkin has started to go past it’s best, I am planning to pop it on the fence in the back garden for the birds and squirrels. Please do not put your pumpkins on the floor for animals as they can make hedgehogs quite poorly! Leave them out but make sure they are raised.
And, once the wildlife have had their fill, the pumpkin will go into the compost bin and will be feeding my veg patch in the future!
If you don’t have a compost bin then ask around your neighbourhood – someone will! The absolute worst thing you can do is put gone over pumpkins into landfill bins. Firstly they will smell as they rot but they will also release methane and that is so damaging. There will be someone with an allotment or garden compost bin that will take the pumpkins off your hands. Check out the Share Waste website to search for someone near to you.
So there we have it covered. Being low to no waste this pumpkin season is easy with a bit of thought and time. In summary:
- Buy local
- Don’t over buy
- Don’t carve all you pumpkins at once – they will last longer this way
- Use the seeds and flesh for delicious home cooked food
- Leave out (raised) for wildlife to enjoy
- Make sure to compost and left overs
Happy Halloween! I hope you have a super spooky time! I will leave you with this image of a slice of my pumpkin pie!