Pumpkin Waste: 5 Ways To Recycle It
It’s that time of year when pumpkins flood the supermarket aisles as Hallowe’en approaches. Making a jack o’lantern for 31st October is tradition that has its roots in Celtic festivals and the early United States: Irish immigrants celebrated Samhain, a festival when the dead were believed to briefly return to earth. They would ward off evil spirits by carving and placing embers in pumpkins, an autumn squash native to North America.
Today in the UK, Unilever estimates 42% of us buy a pumpkin every year, but a quarter of these go straight in the bin. That’s 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin which is simply thrown away – enough to make 360 million portions of pumpkin pie.
Besides the huge amounts of waste involved, it’s a shame to throw your pumpkin away, because these vitamin-rich gourds are seriously good for you. Their vibrant colours are down to pumpkin’s high levels of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body and helps support your immune system. They’re also dense in fibre, zinc, iron and magnesium. Give your body a boost, and make sure your pumpkin wasn’t grown in vain, by trying a few of our favourite ways to use up your Hallowe’en pumpkin.
Pumpkin pie is an all-American classic and a non-negotiable at Thanksgiving. The pumpkin puree used to make it usually comes out a can, but you can easily make your own. Try baking your own pie – or if time is an issue, rustle up this simpler, spicy-sweet pumpkin loaf for an afternoon treat.
TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Crunchy, nutty toasted pumpkin seeds can be scattered over lunchtime salads for a shot of magnesium and zinc, or used to super-charge your smoothies. They separate easily from the flesh – scatter the seeds on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil or a cooking spray, and toast for 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
Roasting pumpkin is the best way to make the most of its earthy, mellow flesh. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Cut the top off your pumpkin, and scoop out and set aside the seeds. Carefully cut your pumpkin into chunks, drizzle with oil, and roast for 45 minutes until golden and tender. Once it’s cool, you can then peel off the skin and incorporate the roasted pumpkin into your cooking. Risotto is the perfect autumn dish; rich, creamy and soothing. Set aside a Sunday evening for this recipe, which combines roast pumpkin with garlic, shallots and parmesan.
BREW IT UP
Know somebody who’s a dab hand at home brewing? Donate your pumpkin – they’re a well-known substitute for wheat and barley in beer. Or, use Belvedere vodka to turn it into a crowd-pleasing cocktail at your Hallowe’en party – this is our favourite recipe.