If you love Halloween, there’s nothing sadder than the morning after, when you have to toss that sagging, rotting pumpkin in the trash. Keep the pumpkin spirit going and give your kids a lesson in sustainability by finding creative ways to reuse all the pumpkin parts.
Those icky, stringy parts that make pumpkin carving such a big, fun mess can make an excellent addition to your compost bin. If you don’t compost, or you want to try something new, you can use the guts to make some pumpkin stock.
To begin, add these ingredients to a pot:
- The guts
- A chopped onion or some vegetable scraps (like celery and carrot)
- A bay leaf
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 8 cups water
Simmer for thirty to forty-five minutes. Strain and store in an airtight container in your fridge or freezer. It works great as a base for fall soup recipes and can be used in most recipes that call for chicken or vegetable stock.
One of the easiest ways to reuse pumpkin parts is by roasting pumpkin seeds. Not only will you teach your kids a lesson in sustainability, but you’ll also make a tasty, healthy snack. Start by washing the seeds. If you prefer to remove the shells before roasting, like I do, lay them out on a cutting board and roll over them with a rolling pin. This will crack them open a bit, but be careful not to crush them. Add them to a pot of boiling water. It should take about five to ten minutes for the majority of the shells to slip off. Drain and lay them out on a towel to dry.
Now you’re ready to roast them. Lay the seeds out on a lined baking sheet, and season them how you like. It can be as simple as a drizzle of olive oil and some salt, or spice things up with a pinch of cayenne or curry powder. Bake in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for twenty minutes.
If you’ve cut into your pumpkin to create a jack-o’-lantern, then it’s most likely too rotten to cook. The good news is all of it, up to the stem, can be composted.
Another simple way to reuse the pumpkin skin that teaches a fun lesson in sustainability is by turning it into an all-natural seed starter. Add some soil and some pumpkin seeds into the hollowed out pumpkin, then water. Care for it as you would a seed-starting container. Once the seeds begin to sprout, you can simply plant the entire thing, pumpkin and all, into the ground. The rotting pumpkin will give the soil nutrients as the plant inside continues to grow. This works best with smaller pumpkins.
The Uncarved Pumpkin
Pumpkins that haven’t been carved will last longer, though they won’t last forever. Before they have a chance to rot, cut them up and reuse all the parts the same way. In addition, any pumpkin flesh that is fresh can be used to cook with by being made into a pumpkin puree.
With the seeds and guts removed, cut the pumpkin in half and roast the pieces in the oven on 350 degrees Fahrenheit for forty-five minutes or until tender. Let it cool before peeling away the outer skin, which can then hit the compost pile. Place the peeled pieces in a blender or food processor, and mix until smooth. If it seems dry, you can add a few tablespoons of water. Homemade pumpkin puree can be used in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin: from pies and pumpkin bread to soup and pumpkin butter. You can store it in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for six to eight months.
Kids tend to learn best with hands-on activities, so include them in every step. Come up with your own different pumpkin uses to get your family thinking creatively about wasting less.
Tweet your favorite ways to reuse pumpkin parts to @TomsofMaine.
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.