Home Living Sustainably Double treat: don’t waste your pumpkins this Halloween

Double treat: don’t waste your pumpkins this Halloween

by Shalika Suriyampola

It’s Pumpkin season! It is time to go to a pumpkin farm and carve your pumpkin. A time for lots of sweet eating and getting ready for costume parties. However, just like any other holiday with festivities, there is a lot of waste and unsustainable practices. One of the most beloved traditions is pumpkin carving, a fun yet, very wasteful activity.

But don’t get spooked! We have some fun sustainable recipes, so you do not let your pumpkin go to waste this Halloween!

harvest, pumpkin, autumn-4454745.jpg
Don’t let your pumpkins go to waste!

How much waste are we really causing? Pumpkins in numbers

Only within the United Kingdom, 10 million pumpkins are grown a year, with 95% of those being used for Halloween creating 18,000 tons of food waste (Smithers, 2019). That’s the equivalent of 360 servings of pumpkin pie thrown away (WeForum, 2019).

All this only contributes to an increase in the already high food waste worldwide which is a real environmental concern. As a planet, we already contribute to 1.3 billion tons of every year.

Just by reducing our food waste completely, we can cut back on 6%-8% of human-caused greenhouse emissions

World Wildlife, 2023).

40% of consumers buy fresh pumpkins only to carve them out for decorations, with 60% of them throwing out the flesh. But that is crazy!! because the inside of the Pumpkin is very usable! Wasting these pumpkins means you are also wasting all the energy, water, and resources it takes to grow, harvest, and transport them.

Water is used throughout every stage of the food production process, so wasting these pumpkins also means we are wasting water. Pumpkins, which by the way, are a fruit, are very thirsty and require lots of water to grow, and their soil should never dry up (Miracle Grow, 2023).

Food waste ends up wasting a quarter of the world’s water supply in the form of uneaten food.

The Natural Resources Defense Council

Food waste also contributes to the release of many harmful powerful greenhouse gases that are stronger than carbon dioxide gas. It releases methane which when released lingers for 12 years and traps heat from the sun. If we stop throwing food away, we can save the equivalent of 17 metric tonnes of CO2. As well, we waste land when producing the food, and use the space to dump the food waste.

And maybe the most surprising (boo!) is that food waste harms biodiversity. To grow these pumpkins for decorations, we must transform wild pastures to be used as agricultural land. This destroys natural lands and the rich biodiversity that inhabits them.

What can you do?

This Halloween we can remember that pumpkin is a fruit! And an edible one! In fact, the whole pumpkin is edible. Let’s dive into some fun ways to use our favourite spooky fruit.

Make veggie stock!

 This is a great way to use the pumpkin guts that are often discarded. Make a vegetable stock that can be used in many different dishes! We love this recipe from Pants Down Aprons On

All you need are 3 simple ingredients:

  • Pumpkin trim and guts (and other vegetable trimmings if available)
  • White Onions
  • Water

Even the directions are foolproof!

  1. Place the pumpkin guts, trims, onions, and if you want other vegetable trimmings in a pot
  2. Add some water, and bring it to a slow simmer. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes
  3. Remove it from the heat and let it cool down
  4. Once at room temperature, you can strain it
  5. You can now store it in an airtight container in the fridge

You can use this stock to enrich your soups, risotto, porridge, and pasta. It is really easy to never let guts and pumpkin trims go to waste again this spooky season!

Mixer with pumpkin waste skins
Image courtesy of Pants Down Aprons On

What about a pumpkin puree?

Pumpkin flesh is a real treasure and not only for sweet pie. You can turn it into a pumpkin puree that can be added to other dishes, drinks and baking recipes. And guess what, all you need are some pumpkins and these easy-to-follow instructions by The Pioneer Woman

  • Cut your pumpkin in half scrapping out the guts (you can keep aside the seeds for other recipes)
  • Place the pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at approximately 175°C ( 350 Fahrenheit) for about 45 min or until the pumpkin is tender.
  • Peel the skin off the pumpkin. Mash the pumpkin flesh pieces with a blender, food processor, or fork until smooth. Whatever you have lying around!
  • And Voila! You have now a wonderful puree to use right away to bake some yummy Halloween pie or cookies (keep reading!).

You can also keep it in the freezer for later use. I am sure preserving it in glass jars is also a great option if you have a pantry to store them

Image Courtesy of Pioneer Women

Now you have this puree, but what to do with it? Carving out pumpkins is usually a group activity done with family and friends. You can continue this time together by using that puree to make some yummy baked goods!

Bake some yummy cookies!

Who doesn’t love pumpkin cookies? You will love these super soft and tasty ones, Courtesy of Sally McKenney, which are ideal for Halloween.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies image courtesy of Sally Mckenney

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (340g) fresh pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup (12 Tbsp; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I use and recommend dark)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup, milk, or orange juice (see note)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit or 177 Celsius. Use oil or butter to grease the pan.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and ginger together in a large bowl. Set it aside.
  3. Using a mixer or a spoon, cream the softened butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, and blotted pumpkin and mix on high until combined. It is okay if the mix looks a little curdled.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then mix on low speed until combined. The dough is thick and sticky. Scoop or roll cookie dough, around 1.5 Tablespoons of dough per cookie, and place 3 inches apart on the baking pan.
  5. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until edges appear set. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool completely.

We hope that with all these new pumpkin recipes and inspiration, you feel better equipped this Halloween to use your pumpkins and not let them go to waste! For more tips to reduce waste in your kitchen check this other article


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1 comment

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