Growing up, I remember carving pumpkins to decorate our porch. We would always end up throwing out so much of their “guts.” I’ve been looking for ways to reduce waste and use everything from our pumpkins instead.
It turns out, there is a lot you can do with them! Whether you use the whole thing (if other critters haven’t eaten by the end of the holidays) or just utilize the insides after you have carved your pumpkin, there are plenty of great uses for extra bits!
You can’t eat it, but you can still use it!
If your pumpkins have been carved and have been sitting outside, exposed to critters and bacteria, they are no longer edible. But that doesn’t mean they are useless! You can cut up carved remains and mix them into your compost pile.
You can make a bird feeder out of your outdoor pumpkins (this works best with smaller ones). Just cut the top off completely, fill the inside with some bird seeds, hang it from a tree, and you’ve got a natural (spooky) bird feeder!
Of What’s Left, What’s Edible?
When you’re carving your pumpkins, make sure to save the insides that you’ll take out! These innards can be used for all sorts of delicious treats.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Separate the seeds from the stringy bits of the fruit and rinse them. Then lay them out to dry before tossing them with olive oil and salt. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes (until they’re golden brown).
You can use the stringy pieces you separated from the seeds to make a stock. Combine the stringy pieces and any other pieces that you carve out of your jack-o-lantern in a large pot. Add water and any other veggies you have on hand like onion, celery, carrots, fennel, and a few bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil then simmer for around an hour. Strain out the veggies (add them to your compost!), and you can use the broth this fall or freeze it to save it for the winter.
What about un-carved pumpkins?
Whole pumpkins that were decorations inside your house give you even more options!
You can make your own puree instead of using the canned stuff. Simply cook the pumpkin and blend it to make a puree. You can sweeten it to use it for a Thanksgiving pie filling, or add the puree to any baked goods recipe (like bread or muffins).
Dinner in a Pumpkin
Instead of using a baking dish to make dinner, throw it all in a pumpkin and roast it in the oven! This makes for a fun dinner with a festive centerpiece.
If you thought your pumpkins had only one purpose, now you’ve got so many options! This season, cut back on waste and try making your own pumpkin foods with the pumpkins you’ve got at home.