How To Reuse Pumpkin After Carving
When the ghosts and ghouls have gone home and the Halloween decor is packed into storage, we’re faced with a question.
What to do with our pumpkins?
Here are some ways you can use your leftover pumpkins this Halloween or whip up the easy pumpkin soup as a starter for a dinner party or a light supper when you need a bit of comfort.
How To Reuse Carved Pumpkins
While you don’t want to eat a pumpkin that’s been sitting outside, you can preserve the seeds and stringy parts during the carving process and work a little magic in the kitchen with them.
Roast Pumpkin Seeds
To roast pumpkin seeds, separate them from the stringy guts and rinse well. Lay them out in a flat sheet to dry. Toss them with a little butter or olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast at 150 degrees centigrade until golden brown — about 45 minutes. You can also use those pumpkin seeds to make a tasty pumpkin seed pesto, or as a crunchy topper for guacamole or hummus.
Make Pumpkin Stock
Homemade pumpkin stock makes a rich base for pumpkin soup, autumn chowders, or pumpkin risotto. You can make a simple stock with the pumpkin strings after you carve your Jack-o’-Lantern.
Put all those insides in a big stock pot with any other veggies you have on hand, like onion, carrots, celery, garlic, fennel, and mushrooms. Add a bay leaf or two, cover with water, and simmer for about an hour, stirring a few times. Then strain out the veggies, and you’re done. You can use the stock right away, or freeze it to use later in tasty autumn recipes.
Feed the Animals
Local wildlife isn’t as discerning as we are, so they can still nosh on that pumpkin goodness. Cut off the top half of the carved pumpkin and turn it into a festive bird feeder. Fill it with birdseed and hang it from a tree in your garden to enjoy the sights and sounds of the birds.
Another option is to cut your pumpkin into small pieces for the foraging animals, like squirrels and deer who are fattening up for winter. Or donate it to a local farmer as a treat for their goats and pigs.
Add it to Compost
A simple way to keep your pumpkin out of the landfill is to repurpose it in your own garden. You can chop your pumpkin into small bits and add it to the compost heap for a dose of nitrogen as it decomposes. Balance it out with something carbon-rich to keep your heap healthy, like leaves, newspaper, or wood ash. Remove the seeds first, as they can germinate and start to grow within your compost pile. Plus, the seeds make great snacking.
Make Pumpkin Soup
If you scoop out all the flesh whilst carving your pumpkin you can use it to make this delicious soup, to warm you up on those autumn days.
2 onions, finely chopped
1kg pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
150ml double cream
For the croutons:
2 tbsp olive oil
4 slices wholemeal seeded bread, crusts removed
handful pumpkin seeds
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook 2 finely chopped onions for 5 mins, until soft but not coloured.
Add 1kg pumpkin or squash, cut into chunks, to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.
Pour 700ml vegetable or chicken stock into the pan and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the squash is very soft.
Pour 150ml double cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender. For an extra-velvety consistency you can pour the soup through a fine sieve. The soup can now be frozen for up to 2 months.
To make the croutons: cut 4 slices wholemeal seeded bread into small squares.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, then fry the bread until it starts to become crisp.
Add a handful of pumpkin seeds to the pan, then cook for a few mins more until they are toasted. These can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container.
Reheat the soup if needed, taste for seasoning, then serve scattered with croutons and seeds and drizzled with more olive oil, if you want.