5 pumpkin cooking ideas to help you minimise food waste this Halloween

Lisa Walden
·4-min read
Photo credit: VICUSCHKA - Getty Images
Photo credit: VICUSCHKA - Getty Images

From Country Living

Whether used for carving ghoulish faces or cooking sumptuous meals, pumpkins are a popular October tradition. But, sadly, their environmental impact hits scary heights each Halloween.

According to statistics from Unilever, the UK bins 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins (eight million) every Halloween, with over half only being used for carving. Similarly, charity Hubbub found that around 40% of consumers buy pumpkins to simply carve out lanterns, but 60% of those purchased are thrown away afterwards.

While many of them are predominantly purchased for carving, the seasonal squash is perfect for cooking at this time of year. Not sure what to make? Food waste expert and co-founder of ODDBOX, Emilie Vanpoperinghe, has provided a step-by-step guide on how to eat the whole pumpkin from skin to seed to minimise food waste.

Take a look at what you can do with each part of the pumpkin to avoid wasting it...

1. Cook the flesh

Photo credit: IrisImages - Getty Images
Photo credit: IrisImages - Getty Images

If you're carving a pumpkin, it's often the flesh that is scooped out and thrown away. Sweet, nutty and robust, it's a delicious autumnal food that goes a long way in the kitchen. Here's what you can do to avoid wasting the flesh:

1. Make pumpkin wedges: "Slice your pumpkin into wedges (you can keep the skin on) and drizzle with oil, a little honey and cumin seeds. Roast until golden and tender at 200ºC. Roasted pumpkin is great in colourful warm salads, for example with kale, chopped nuts and an orange dressing," Emilie says.

2. Make pumpkin hummus: "Roast your pumpkin as above, then leave to cool. Scoop out the flesh (if you didn't remove the peel first), then blitz in a blender with tahini, lemon juice, a bit of garlic and cumin."

3. Make pumpkin mash: Emilie explains: "Chop the flesh into small chunks (make sure to remove the skin first, see below) and boil until tender. Drain and mash it well with a knob of butter or a bit of oil and a splash of milk or dairy-free milk. Serve as a side or on top of a veggie cottage pie, or turn the mash into Sunday brunch pumpkin pancakes with a pinch of autumnal cinnamon and nutmeg." Yum!

4. Make a pumpkin puree: "Make a puree from the flesh and add to homemade pumpkin spice lattes or even pumpkin cocktails!"

2. Turn the peel into crisps

Photo credit: ansonmiao - Getty Images
Photo credit: ansonmiao - Getty Images

Not sure what to do with pumpkin peel? With a little imagination and know-how, why not turn it into tasty crisps? It's the perfect autumnal snack.

Follow the simple steps below:

1. Once you've removed the peel, sprinkle with salt on a baking tray

2. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil

3. Bake it for 25 minutes on the top rack of a 200ºC oven until crisp. Enjoy!

3. Roast the seeds

Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images
Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images

A great way to reduce pumpkin seed waste is to roast them in the oven. Simple and oh-so tasty, it's perfect for everyone to give a go this autumn.

1. Rinse the seeds of the fleshy, stringy bits and dry using a clean tea towel.

2. Next, place on a baking tray and coat with olive oil or coconut oil and a pinch of salt and chilli flakes (if you like).

3. Then roast for about 10 minutes at 180ºC. Either enjoy as a snack or add to granola for a unique kick.

4. Roast your pumpkin whole

Photo credit: robert reader - Getty Images
Photo credit: robert reader - Getty Images

If you're not carving a pumpkin, a great alternative is to roast it whole for a delicious dinnertime treat. All you need to do is simply slice off the top, remove the seeds and stringy parts inside, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven until tender.

For those of you feeling creative, you can choose to stuff your pumpkin or simply leave it plain and then chop it up once it's cooked.

5. Save the scraps

Photo credit: ansonmiao - Getty Images
Photo credit: ansonmiao - Getty Images

Instead of throwing your pumpkin scraps (the stringy part) in the bin, keep them as leftovers. They work brilliantly added to soup or homemade veggie burgers. Alternatively, pop them in a bag in the freezer to keep them fresh until you need them.

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