It’s my favourite time of year again and I’ve done a lot of research into some quick, easy and creative ways to help you get the most out of your pumpkins and jack o’lanterns. Did you know an estimated 10 million pumpkins are grown in the UK every year! 95% of which will be hollowed out into lanterns for Halloween and the rest used in recipes – we’ve put together a couple of ideas to help you get the most out of our favourite seasonal squash.
Delicious and healthy recipes
Pumpkin is an incredibly versatile source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, it’s both healthy and very tasty. It may help boost your immune system, protect your eyesight, lower your risk of certain cancers and promote heart and skin health. (source; healthline.com)
Perfect Pumpkins! Image credits Getty Images
When carving up a lantern, you can end up with a lot of left over pulp and seeds, here are a couple of to help you cut down food waste:
Pumpkin seeds and pulp Image credits Joshua Resnick Shutterstock
Pumpkin seeds – did you know that on average a pumpkin can have anywhere between 100 to 700 seeds! They’re rich in protein, iron, zinc and phosphorus. These can be eaten raw, roasted in an oven, or used in a multitude of autumnal recipes, such as; granola bars, flapjack, seasonal grain dishes, cheesecakes or even added to a pot of delicious pumpkin soup! Personally, I like snacking on them throughout the day, or when I’m out on a walk. The BBC’s Good Food website has a handy guide on roasting seeds, as well as using them as part of a recipe – https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-use-pumpkin-seeds
A quick and easy snack that’s tasty and full of health benefits Image credits Getty Images
Pumpkin pulp – the guts that hold the seeds inside the pumpkin can themselves be used for lots of different recipes, blending the guts into a puree allows you to make a wide range of tasty treats including a home made version of the famous Pumpkin Spice Latté!
As a sweet or savoury ingredient, pumpkin puree is a cheap, healthy and fresh alternative to canned pumpkin and the internet is full of exciting ideas on how to mix in fresh pumpkin puree – If you’re a Harry Potter fan, here’s a link to a recipe to recreate the Wizarding world’s favourite beverage: https://www.artofwizardry.com/harry-potter-pumpkin-juice-recipe/ Not hungry? You can use your pumpkin guts in lots of other ways – from body scrubs and face masks, to liqueur and dog biscuits!
DIY Pumpkin Oat Face Mask from Feed your Beauty – https://feedingyourbeauty.com/2016/10/04/diy-pumpkin-oat-face-mask-all-natural-and-vegan/
Post-Halloween Pumpkin Projects
After the 31st of Halloween, you might be tempted to chuck your used lantern out onto the compost heap, before you do that try some of these fun and beneficial projects to really get the most out of your pumpkins!
Pumpkin bird feeder – a simple way to invite wee birdies into your garden. There are lots of different shapes and sizes of bird feeders that you could craft, so get creative! The simplest method I found was to carve around the face on your lantern to leave a hole in the front, then pop your pumpkin in a nice quiet part of your garden and fill with seeds, you could even carve holes for some string in the top and then hang your festive feeder up off the ground. Here’s a guide from Gardener’s World to get you started: https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/maintain-the-garden/how-to-make-a-pumpkin-bird-feeder/
Pumpkin skin is quite tough but also a nice snack for wildlife, so now you have a biodegradable bird feeder! Image credits: Pumpkin Bird Feeder – Growit Buildit https://growitbuildit.com/pumpkin-bird-feeder-5-min-craft-project/
Pumpkin Planters – your lantern is already hollowed out, so why not pop some compost in and make a cheery and bright autumnal plant pot – the great thing about this is that it will degrade naturally over time so it’s perfect for keeping plants in over the winter for transplanting in spring!
Here’s a pumpkin planter from The Spruce https://www.thespruce.com/pumpkin-planter-848000
Pumpkin ornaments and centrepieces – If you have smaller pumpkins left over from your autumn harvest and you don’t want to eat them up, you can instead re- purpose them into floating tea light holders, air fresheners and even succulent centrepieces – there is no limit to what you could create, all just in time for the festive season!
Colourful and cheery pumpkin centrepieces by The Spruce https://www.thespruce.com/make-succulent-pumpkin-centerpiece-4105837
In conclusion, there are lots and lots of brilliant ways to use up your pumpkins before putting them in the compost. Once completely worn out you can let them decompose over winter in your mulch pile – or if you don’t have a compost heap nearby, break your pumpkin into small pieces and bury in your garden to increase soil health. Bring your hollowed out pumpkin along to the Viewfield Community Orchard on the 17th of November and collect some leaf mulch to get a head start on making a planter! Please let us know what uses or recipes you have for pumpkins – we look forward to trying them all! Seasons greetings and Happy Halloween!