Happy Halloween! If you are anything like me, this one day actually starts on the 1st October. I harvest my pumpkins at the end of September so that they have enough time to cure and harden, ready for carving and using at the end of October. Read on for some ideas to use your pumpkin after you have carved it…
Pumpkins are grown and bought to be primarily used to carve and light up. Every year, around 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins are thrown away and not eaten! 18,000!!! Tonnes!!! Here at TCV Birmingham we want to encourage people to use the pumpkin as a source of food – which is what it was originally intended for.
Pumpkins, squash, some patty pan varieties, and some gourds can all be grown and harvested in September or October time, and then cured. This means that the skin hardens, and the fruit will last through the winter, giving people food when no other crops were available. You can also store apples, pears, turnips, swede and potatoes to have fresh food during the winter months.
So how can you use the pumpkin? This article will highlight a few ways to use the flesh and seeds – simply save what you remove when you carve. I tend to have a bowl for the seeds, a bowl for the flesh and a bowl for the skin when I separate it. Cut the skin off the flesh and add it to the compost heap. Wash the seeds and dry them on some kitchen towel – you can then save them to grow next year, or roast them for a snack. Maybe bag some up in paper envelopes/bags and do a seed swap with your neighbours?
Cooking With Pumpkin:
There are SO many things you can do with pumpkin! Some varieties have a deep nutty flavour, and others are quite bland, so they require seasoning and spice to perk them up. Being a hard textured fruit, they can be easily chopped up, cooked, and mashed as an extra hidden veg, or cut into wedges. You could also make them into fries!
Below are lots of ideas for how to get the most out of a pumpkin. Click the words to be taken to a recipe! Not all of these have been tested by me, but I’m slowly working through the list.
Cake: My absolute favourite thing to do with a pumpkin, and it probably comes as no surprise, is to make cake! You can use fresh pumpkin which has been pureed, or you can used pre-pureed tinned pumpkin. Add in lots of mixed spices – I don’t put walnuts in mine. Get the recipe here.
Soup: The easiest thing to do is make soup. All you need to do is blitz the pumpkin smooth and add other ingredients. Try pumpkin and carrot, pumpkin and lentil, or pumpkin and spice. You could roast the pumpkin in wedges before you blitz it to get a deeper flavour. Find recipes here.
Other ideas for cooking with pumpkin: (Click on the words and a recipe will open in a new window. TCV are not responsible for the content of linked sites!)
You could also puree the pumpkin and then freeze it in portion sizes so that you have some ready to add to meals throughout the year.
Yogurt and pumpkin – puree the pumpkin and mix it with yogurt, or roast chunks and add them to a bowl of yogurt!
Put the carved pumpkins out at the top of the garden for wildlife to eat.
Chop pumpkins up into chunks and add them to the compost. Smaller bits break down faster. You could also bury the pumpkin (without seeds!) in the garden where worms will break it down and incorporate it into the soil.
Use it as a bird seed feeding bowl .
Get in touch with your local zoo or animal park to see if they will have the pumpkins for the animals! Check out this video from Los Angeles Zoo.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas to make the most of your pumpkin!
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