Go Green: Use the entire pumpkin this Halloween
Halloween is a favorite with kids and adults, but the holiday includes lots of disposable trappings, from costumes to candy to jack-o’-lanterns.
More families have embraced organic and fair-trade treats and avoided single-use costumes made from unsustainable fabrics. However, the pumpkin remains the one vital element of Halloween that too often ends up in the garbage on Nov. 1.
Organic pumpkins are available in many parts of the country, though they are more expensive. The greenest thing to do with any carving pumpkin — organic or no — is get as much use out of it as possible. While pumpkins engineered for use as jack-o’-lanterns aren’t as sweet or fleshy as those meant for cooking, the seeds, flesh and even the rind can be still incorporated into simple at-home recipes.
Here are some simple ways to use every last bit for a truly green Halloween.
Roasted pumpkin seeds are an easy and obvious way to get more mileage out of your pumpkin. Serve them as snacks or sprinkle them on a salad. Kids can help with this easy recipe.
Rinse off the seeds and let them dry. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and toss seeds in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until they’re coated thoroughly. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a spatula to stir up the seeds twice while they bake.
Scrape out and compost the stringy matter. Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to scrape out the insides until the pumpkin’s interior is smooth; reserve the orange pulp.
Store the pulp in the refrigerator. After carving your pumpkins, keep the pieces you carved out for the eyes, nose and mouth. Remove the rind and chop the firm inner flesh into 1-inch cubes before adding to your reserved pulp.
Some people steam the pumpkin over boiling water to soften it, but the most energy-efficient way to prep your pumpkin puree is in the microwave. Transfer your pumpkin flesh into a microwave-safe bowl with a cover. Add one inch of water and microwave for 10 minutes. Check to see if the pumpkin is soft and if necessary, give it a few more minutes in the microwave.
Send the softened puree through a blender or food processor. Then it’s ready to be incorporated into risotto, pasta dishes, milkshakes, soup, casseroles or other fall-inspired recipes.
Pickling is a great way to make a pumpkin’s firm rind palatable. Find a good recipe for pickled watermelon rind and swap in your pumpkin.
DID YOU KNOW
- Illinois produced more pounds of pumpkins than any other state, according to the USDA, followed by California and Ohio.
- Carved pumpkins that have been sitting outside for a week or more are likely past their prime and should be composted.