With 42% of people in the UK buying pumpkins for Halloween, what is truly spooky is the amount we throw away. Over 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin end up in landfill sites every year – the equivalent of 1500 double decker buses, or 360 million portions of pumpkin pie.
Even worse than the needless waste of money is the waste of nutritious food. From the flesh to the seeds, pumpkins are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They’re also full of valuable nutrients including vitamins A, C and E as well as fibre.
Preventing Pumpkin Waste
Environmental charity Hubbub has been running the Pumpkin Rescue campaign for several years, alongside big names such as Unilever and Tesco. The aim of the campaign is to save as many pumpkins as possible from landfill.
The majority of people don’t actually want to waste their pumpkins, they simply don’t know what to do with them. That’s why the campaign hosts events to teach and encourage people to reuse their scary lanterns.
If you’re already bored of pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie, we’ve got some ideas for you. Check out these marvellous ways to save the pumpkins and ensure they don’t go to waste.
Homemade pumpkin butter is delicious spread on bread, crackers, pancakes and perfect for use in cooking and baking. Cut up chunks of pumpkin and boil in water for around 20 minutes. When soft, puree your pumpkin flesh in a blender or food processor. Mix with a dash of apple juice, ground ginger, ground cloves, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Simmer and stir in a pan until thick, and chill before serving.
Pumpkin Face Mask
Pumpkin is full of vitamins and minerals that are not only good for your insides, but your exterior too. Make a homemade, all-natural face mask with your leftover pumpkin to leave your face feeling smooth and pampered. Mix cooked, pureed pumpkin flesh with sugar and milk, or honey and aloe for refreshing skin masks. Rub onto the face in a circular motion, leave on for 20 minutes and then wash off.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Whilst snacking on warm toasted pumpkin seeds is delicious in itself, another great way to use the seeds is by making pumpkin seed pesto. Simply replace the usual pine nuts with pumpkin seeds in a regular basil-based recipe, or mix things up by adding lime juice and coriander instead of basil. Great for those with nut allergies who still want to enjoy this flavoursome, versatile sauce.
Use the stringy parts of your pumpkin which aren’t normally eaten to make a vegetable stock. Cook them in a little olive oil, then add other vegetable scraps such as carrot tops and onion scraps with water and seasonings. Bring to the boil and simmer for up to 60 minutes, then strain to create a delicious stock that can be added to any recipe. If you make a lot, you can freeze some in an ice cube tray for easy access to portions of stock when needed.
This hearty vegetarian dish makes for ideal autumnal comfort food. Begin by making a pumpkin puree, by roasting and then blending the pumpkin flesh. Mix this pureed pumpkin with cream, salt, pepper and sage. In a pan, fry onions and mushrooms in oil. Then grab a greased baking dish and layer the bottom with lasagne sheets. Smother these with some of the pumpkin sauce.
On top of this, sprinkle a part of the mushroom mix along with cheese such as ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella. Repeat these layers until you end with a layer of pasta covered in a layer of sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Then uncover, top with parmesan and bake for another 10 minutes. This rich, scrumptious dish will no doubt become a new favourite in your household.
Do you have any great ways to use up and save the pumpkins? Let us know your favourite recipes on our Facebook page.