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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Use all of your pumpkin this Halloween

Don’t throw away those pumpkin guts

When the summer heat cools into crisp air, I immediately buy everything pumpkin: coffee, cream cheese, cookies. You name it, it’s in my fridge. 

As a self-declared pumpkin fiend, I’m a sucker for the overflowing bins of pumpkins stacked outside the grocery store.

In America, when you think “fall,” pumpkin usually follows. And with this tradition comes a high demand for the seasonal fruit. 

Every year, more than 1 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown only to end up rotting in landfills after Halloween festivities are over. 

Besides contributing to food waste, when left to break down in landfills, pumpkins and other organic waste produce a greenhouse gas called methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. 

But pumpkin carving doesn’t have to be at the expense of the environment. This Halloween, don’t throw away your pumpkin or your carving tools

Roast your pumpkin seeds 

One of my favorite parts of carving pumpkins is the bowl of pumpkin seeds I come away with in the end. 

All you need to do for this healthy and seasonal snack is wash your pumpkin seeds off with some water and blot them dry with a towel. Then, load your seeds up with your favorite spices and some oil — I like to use salt, olive oil, and paprika — and let them roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.  

Don’t throw away the guts! Make vegetable stock 

If you don’t want to sort through all your gooey pumpkin innards, simply scoop up any parts of the pumpkin you aren’t going to use and place them in a boiling pot of water. Add some onion trims and any other vegetables you’d like to use up before leaving your pumpkin stock to simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Once cooled to room temperature, strain the stock to remove any solids before storing your broth in an airtight container. For immediate use, place your pumpkin stock in the fridge, or move it to the freezer for longer storage. 

Make pumpkin puree 

If you have a whole pumpkin leftover, consider making yourself pumpkin puree. All you need for this simple recipe is a pumpkin and some salt. 

First, remove all the guts and seeds from your pumpkin and save them for later use. Then, remove the stem and split the pumpkin in half before placing each side face down on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle some salt over each half and then place them in the oven to roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Once you can easily insert and remove a knife from the pumpkin, place each side into a blender (or food processor if you have one), and process until everything is a smooth consistency. 

Pumpkin puree can be used for countless recipes including the classic pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup and, my personal favorite, pumpkin rolls. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try your hand at making a homemade pumpkin spice latte

Use pumpkin guts for skincare 

Don’t like the taste of pumpkin? No problem. Put your leftover pumpkin scraps to use by making a DIY face mask. Not only are pumpkins nutritious, but they are also a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin C and antioxidants, making them the perfect cheap ingredient for some homemade self-care. 

Dispose Responsibly

Once you’ve had time to show off your pumpkin carving skills and the Halloween season comes to a close, remember to properly dispose of your pumpkins. Instead of placing your creations in the trash, leave your pumpkin in an open field to decompose back into the soil or place them in the woods for deer, squirrels and other critters to enjoy. 

If you’d prefer, you can drop off your pumpkin at a local pumpkin collection site. Visit any of Buffalo River Compost’s 10 drop-off locations from Friday, Nov. 3 through Sunday, Nov. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to ensure that your pumpkin becomes useful compost instead of harmful food waste. 

Alex Olen is an opinion editor and can be reached at alex.olen@spectrum.com 

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