How to use up leftover Halloween pumpkin

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  • Carving a pumpkin for Halloween? Make the most of it with our quick and easy leftover pumpkin ideas.

    Pumpkins. We barely see them all year and then October comes around and we can’t escape their orange faces. A staggering 15 million pumpkins are grown in the UK every year, but how many of us have actually eaten one of them?

    Shockingly, over half of them (around eight million) are only used for carving, and come the 1st November they’re dumped in the rubbish. We want to help you use up your leftover Halloween pumpkins so there is no waste this year.

    The amount of pumpkins thrown away each year would be enough to serve up 360 million slices of pumpkin pie or provide every person in the country with bowl of pumpkin soup – crazy, right?

    What can you do with leftover pumpkin?

    For those of you who haven’t eaten pumpkin before, it’s basically a winter squash. So, you can treat it the same way you would a butternut squash – you prepare it in a similar way and it tastes pretty similar too with a sweet earthy taste and soft texture once cooked.

    There are lots of things that can be done with leftover pumpkin. And one of the best things is that if you can’t make your mind up what to make straight away, you can always chop it up and pop it in the freezer for another day.

    It’s great for using in tasty Autumn recipes including pumpkin cake, pumpkin curry and more. You also don’t need to waste the pumpkin seeds once you’ve scooped them out as they make great bursts of flavour and nutrients for salads and soups – we have given our recommendations for these below too.

    How to prepare a pumpkin for cooking

    How you prepare your pumpkin for cooking will really depend on what you are making. The best thing to do is to check the recipe you are following, and see what the method is recommending. However, there are some things that are very important to remember when preparing a pumpkin to cook. 

    Firstly, the skin is tough so you will want to use a sharp peeler. You can peel using a knife but be very careful and do not peel it towards you. Also, you may lose more of the flesh if you peel using a knife. You don’t need to peel if you are roasting the pumpkin as the skin will come of easily after you’ve roasted it – just like sweet potato skin.

    You will want to use a large, sharp knife when cutting the pumpkin as it’s a tough squash to cut through. Watch your fingers and cut on a flat surface on top of a board. You can use a damp cloth underneath the bard to stop the board from moving too much.

    To remove the seeds you can either cut the top off and scoop the seeds out the top or cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom and remove the seeds from each half. Don’t waste the seeds though – have a look at our suggestions for how to cook pumpkin seeds and how to serve them too.

    Storing leftover pumpkin

    Once you’ve finished with your Halloween pumpkin, it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. After that, it may start to show signs of mould or begin to soften. Keeping food items at fridge temperature will slow down the development of food bacteria but it won’t stop the bacteria from multiplying.

    If you want to keep your pumpkin for longer then you should freeze it. Most people don’t have enough freezer space to throw a whole pumpkin in so we’d recommend chopping it into manageable pieces.

    To freeze a pumpkin you will need to peel the pumpkin, remove any wax or seeds from inside, chop into chunks, pop in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Alternatively, cook it, turn it into pumpkin puree and freeze the puree for using later in a pumpkin pie or even baby food as its full of nutrients for your little one.

    Ways to roast pumpkin

    Senior Food Writer, Jessica Ransom, loves to roast pumpkin. She says “you can roast the pumpkin before peeling as the skin comes off really easily after roasting it.”

    Try drizzling the pumpkin with olive oil and scattering over some sage leaves, salt and pepper and roast at 200C/Gas 6 until cooked. The cooking time will depend on how small the pieces are but it will usually take 25-45 mins. Smoked paprika, sumac or thyme work as great flavours to go with the pumpkin – you could try sprinkling these over instead of sage.

    Once you’ve roasted the pumpkin you could eat it as a side to roast chicken or a delicious autumn pie. It also mashes well once cooked so can be used as an alternative to mashed potatoes.

    Leftover pumpkin recipes

    Classic pumpkin pie

    pumpkin pie recipe

    The most traditional of pumpkin recipes, the pumpkin pie. It’s so easy to make and tastes delicious served with a generous scoop of ice cream. The whole family will love it! Carving pumpkins tend to have a higher water content, which makes them perfect for pureeing. This pumpkin pie recipe needs 450g pumpkin flesh, which is steamed and pureed to make the spiced pie filling. Store the pumpkin flesh in a sealed container in the fridge so you can make the pie the next day.

    Get the recipe: Classic pumpkin pie

    Roast pumpkin seeds

    Roasted pumpkin seeds

    Experiment with mixing in different herbs and spices before you roast the seeds to make a flavoured snack. Store them in an airtight container so you can come back to them as a snack, sprinkle over a salad or stir into a yoghurt with granola.

    For more inspiration, have a look at our guide on how to cook pumpkin seeds.

    Try pumpkin soup

    Halloween pumpkin soup

    This easy and nutritious makes a Halloween pumpkin soup tasty family meal any day of the week, but you can add a spider’s web on top for Halloween. The kids will love it!

    Get the recipe: Halloween pumpkin soup

    Bake a pumpkin cake

    Staying in this weekend? Use your pumpkin leftovers to make a cake, like this autumnal pumpkin cupcake with maple icing recipe, which uses 200g pumpkin flesh – you’ll easily have enough from a carved pumpkin. The best thing about vegetable cakes is that the veg often replaces part or all of the butter to make a healthier bake, which is more nutritious.

    If you don’t get round to carving your spooky pumpkin, the possibilities are endless!  Take a look through all our pumpkin recipes, from James Martin’s pumpkin casserole to pumpkin cupcakes.

    Make pumpkin puree

    How to make pumpkin puree

    Some recipes you find may call for pumpkin puree, use our how to make pumpkin puree guide to help make the best you can!

    Cook a pumpkin curry

    Fancy doing something a little spicier with your pumpkin? Try Paul Mercurio’s Pork and Pumpkin Curry.

    Bake pumpkin bread

    Love to bake? Use your leftover pumpkin to bake an easy pumpkin bread loaf.

    Reduce your pumpkin waste

    Don’t forget, pumpkins are in season from October to December so there’s plenty of time to go back for more.

    To reduce your pumpkin waste, you could consider ordering a Halloween box from food-waste fighting subscription service Oddbox. They’re a social enterprise that fights food waste at farm level, working directly with farmers to rescue ‘ugly’ but just as tasty produce and deliver it straight to London’s homes and offices for 30 per cent cheaper than similar services.

    Oddbox pumpkin boxes

    Oddbox recipe box

    ‘Last year we rescued 1,800 pumpkins. We took them on just one week for Halloween. If we do the same this year, we’ll likely rescue closer to 7000. That’s one pumpkin per customer box,’ explains Oddbox co-founder Emilie Vanpoperinghe.

    They were inspired by environmental charity Hubbub who started the yearly #pumpkinrescue campaign, saving 1325 pumpkins and serving 1673 bowls of soup to hungry shoppers at their Oxford festival.

    A survey conducted by Hubbub found that although four in five people said they wanted to reduce their food waste, more than half admitted that they do not see pumpkin as food. However, it’s packed full of immune-boosting vitamins, such as A and C.

    And, once you’ve carved your Jack o’Lantern, there are even more things you can do to transform a pumpkin into a delicious dinner. We’ve listed some delicious ideas below.

    Once you slice open the top of your pumpkin, it’s going to be messy inside. You’ll scoop out a mix of stringy bits, seeds and pumpkin flesh, depending on the pumpkin and your designs on it. Pile it up in a large bowl as you get creative and once you’ve got your scary pumpkin lit up in the window, turn your attention back to the insides.

    Throw the very stringy bits into your compost or food bin, but save the rest.