As cliché as it is, Spooky Szn is my absolute JAM (or pumpkin butter) and I will not do it by halves. We decorate for the entire month of October, take every opportunity for a PSL, and pick the most perfect pumpkins we can find. And then buy some more from the shop, because we love them. But on the 1st of November, the decorations start coming down, and I can’t help but feel sad about all the pumpkins I see rotting away on doorsteps. They’re first and foremost a food, after all. Pumpkins are an absolute super-veg and deserve every bit of the hype, BUT you’ve actually got to eat them to benefit from any of that. So if you want to reduce your food-waste this post-snoopy season, I’ve put together my best ideas for using up your pumpkins after Halloween.
1. Make your own Puree from your Pumpkins after Halloween
Pumpkin puree is the building block of nearly every pumpkin recipe, and learning to make your own will save you an absolute tonne of money. It’s really easy, too! To get the perfect, non-watery pumpkin puree, you just have to follow the right technique.
Cut your pumpkin in half, scoop our all the seeds and stringy stuff, and roast in the oven at 200ºC for roughly 45 minutes. The timing will depend a bit on the size of your pumpkin. You want the flesh to be soft and scoopable, so check on it every 15 mins or so. Once you can easily pierce it with a fork, it’s done.
Next, the important bit: leave the pumpkin to cool completely. Depending on how watery it was, liquid will accumulate in the middle. Once the pumpkin is completely cool, pour this away, then scoop out the flesh and puree with a blender. A potato masher will do in a pinch! Portion out your pumpkin puree (I like to store it as 1 cup servings), and freeze until you need it.
2. Cook Pumpkin Soup from Scratch
This can be a lot easier than it sounds – pumpkin puree, stock, carrots, garlic, onion, blend, done. But pumpkin soup is something people get really creative with. The combination of pumpkin with ginger and coconut is this Jamie Oliver recipe really shines, for instance. And Avant-Garde Vegan mixes the pumpkin with sage and cajun spice, which sounds delicious!
3. Bake a Traditional Pumpkin Pie
…or a not-so-traditional one! You can make amazing savoury pumpkin recipes, but for me, sweet always wins. This Isa Chandra recipe is a firm favourite for me, it’s no-fuss and always works. But if you’re after something else, you can make a raw version with an oat-based crust, or perhaps a batch of pumpkin pie squares!?
4. Make a Simple Side Dish
This is one that works better with small pumpkins/squash, rather than the huge ones you pick off the field for carving. Simply cut in half again and scoop out the seeds etc, then drizzle with oil, herbs, and salt/pepper and roast at 200ºC until soft. Serve a whole half (huh!?) per person for a very cute and very delicious autumn side dish to a roast dinner.
5. Make your own Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup
Since we’re all completely obsessed with a good PSL, can you think of anything more fitting to make with your leftover pumpkins after Halloween? Let’s extend PSL season to all year long! This recipe is one I’ve made before and plan to do again this year – just know that a little goes a long way!
6. If you Absolute Must – Donate for Feed or Compost!
You might be a little late in planning this year, or your pumpkins just did not manage the rainy weather very well. If they’re absolutely not fit for human consumption, there may be animal shelters or nature reserves near you that can make use of past-it pumpkins for their animals. Make sure you check with them first, though, don’t just turn up and dump, as it were. Often these types of places are completely overrun once they put a call out for something lots of people are getting rid of. If none of that is an option for you, then composting is there as a final resort.