Once Halloween is over and the trick or treaters have been and gone, it’s time to clear away your pumpkins and start building those bonfires. But before you chuck your Jack O’Lantern straight in the bin, here are a few ways you can still use your pumpkin, to save it going to waste after Halloween.
Cooking Your Pumpkin
Great news if you decided not to carve your pumpkin this year, you can still use the innards to create some delicious and healthy meals.
If you decorated your pumpkin using paint, or have a few smaller sized pumpkins that you used to decorate for Halloween, then these are perfect for chopping up and roasting to include in soups and tarts, to make the ultimate warming dish.
Most pumpkin recipes begin with chopping, peeling and removing the seeds and then roasting the chunks in the oven until soft. They can then be blended into soups, stirred into risotto or even baked into a sweetly spiced pie.
The flesh of a pumpkin as always been popular for cooking with, and most people completely overlook the stringy portion of the fruit, but this can actually make a lovely vegetable stock.
Simply add the pumpkin guts to a pan with a little oil, stir for a minute or two on a medium heat with some other veggie bits such as onions or carrots.
Then add a few cups of water, boil for about thirty minutes and strain.
If you’re struggling to peel and chop your pumpkin, you can actually roast the whole thing in the oven and then scoop out the flesh once it has softened.
You can even dry out smaller hollowed out pumpkins to use as bowls to serve in! To read about the health benefits of eating pumpkins, and for three great pumpkin recipes, click here.
Don’t forget that all soups, stock and pumpkin puree can be frozen and used throughout the winter.
If you’re planning to cook
with your pumpkin, try to
find culinary versions,
rather than those that are
bred for carving.
Roasting Pumpkin Seeds
Hopefully when you were carving your pumpkin you didn’t chuck away the seeds!
These little guys are packed with nutrients including zinc, vitamin E and fibre, so make the perfect healthy snack when roasted.
Simply wash and dry the seeds of any pumpkin residue, bake in a preheated oven with a drizzle of olive oil for about 20 minutes. Once they have cooled you can scatter them over pies and soups, or just munch on them as they are!
Composting Your Pumpkin
Of course – composting all your leftovers is a great way to recycle your pumpkin in an environmentally friendly way. I’d suggest breaking the pumpkin down a bit and leaving it outside for birds and other animals to pick at.
Once the animals have finished, pop it into your compost bin, and next year it’ll be a rich fertiliser that will work wonders on your plants and flowers.
Planting Pumpkin Seeds
Planting your pumpkin seeds from this year could see you carving up and cooking your very own home-grown pumpkins next Halloween!
It might seem daunting at first, but as long as you have a spacious sunny area in your garden for them to grow, you should get some great results.
Click here for a step by step guide on planting your pumpkin seeds and tips for growing the best pumpkins.
Make a Planter or Bird Feeder
Pumpkins are equally as nutritious for birds and plants as they are for us!
Lend a helping hand to your garden plants or birds by making a planter or feeder out of your old halloween carcass.
This is a great thing to do with pumpkins that have been carved and left outside, as these cannot be cooked with.
To make a planter, take your carved pumpkin, line with newspaper and pack some soil tightly into it. Plant whatever seeds you would like into the soil, I’ve found that early flowering annuals work well.
You can leave the whole thing out as decoration for a few more weeks, or you can plant the whole thing in the ground in the front or back garden. The pumpkin will decompose and contribute to the seeds’ growth, providing them with nutritious food.
To make a feeder, cut your carved pumpkin in half to create a wide bowl with the bottom half.
Cut a groove around the rim of your pumpkin bowl and stick pumpkin seeds upright all the way around.
To add perches, make holes and insert twigs around the outside. Fill with your preferred bird seed and then hang by threading strong garden twine through holes in the sides.
You might need to line with newspaper to prevent seeds falling out where you carved in your face.
So those are just a few things you can do with your pumpkin after Halloween, but I’d love to know if you have any more creative ideas! Reply in the comments below or send me pictures on Facebook and Twitter.