What to Do With Leftover Pumpkins so They Don't End Up in a Landfill

Updated: Nov 3

WAIT! WAIT! WAIT!


Slowly step that pumpkin away from the garbage can. It has bigger and better plans than going to the dump.


It's estimated that about 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in a landfill each year, most of which happens right after Halloween. To lessen the environmental blow this holiday, I have created a handful of ideas on how to use your pumpkins.


So rather than throwing your kids' pumpkins in the bin, here are a few ways to turn the pumpkins into food (good for our body and saving money) or other helpful things for the home.





What to do if your pumpkin has been carved~


Donate it to a zoo or local farm: Many zoos have been known to take carved pumpkins to share with their animals- either to show them destroying them or eating them! You can also call a local farm to see if they have any interest in pumpkins for their animals or compost.


Make a bird feeder: If you are into birds, cut the pumpkin in half, carve out any leftover strands and seeds, wrap some twine around it and fill it with birdseed. Hang it somewhere in your yard that you can see from your home and watch the pretty birds that use it.


Compost it: Whether using your compost service or creating your own compost, throwing your carved (or uncarved) pumpkins in the compost helps create nutrient rich soil and keeps it out of the landfill.



What to do if your pumpkin has NOT been carved-


EAT IT! Pumpkin has a nice, mild gourd flavor that is perfect for soups, stews, on salads, in pasta, and even in dessert dishes. Over the last decade pumpkin flavor has become all the rage, so instead of making your pumpkin muffins from canned pumpkin, use your actual pumpkin to make them! Here are a few things you can do to preserve your pumpkin so it's ready to throw in a recipe when the time comes:


Make a pumpkin puree: Purees are so good in soups and are used in a lot of baking recipes- hello pumpkin pies! The pumpkin puree is so easy to make, just follow these steps.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Cut pumpkin in half (leave stem on) and carve out the strands and seeds, placing them in a bowl to use later.

  3. Drizzle the inside of the pumpkin halves with a bit of avocado oil and brush it all around, especially on the rim of the pumpkin.

  4. Lay the pumpkin halves flat on a baking sheet so that the skin is up, inside is facing down. Bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your pumpkin. You want to be able to easily puncture the skin of the pumpkin with a fork, and the inside tender and easy to scrape off.

  5. Remove from the oven and let sit, leaving the inside face down, until cool enough to handle.

  6. Using a fork or spoon, scrape out all of the flesh into a food processor, leaving just the skin and stem of the pumpkin to compost. Process the flesh until nice and smooth.

  7. Place the puree in containers and freeze. They are nice to freeze in one cup sizes.

  8. When you want to use it, remove it from the freezer to thaw. When room temp, use as the recipe suggests!

Note: Frozen puree will be a little bit more watery than the canned stuff, so adjust the amount of liquid in your recipe if need-be.




Chopped pumpkin: Chopped pumpkin can be used as a replacement in any recipe that has chopped butternut squash or sweet potatoes. It will be slightly more mild but still delicious and offer you lot's of healthy nutrients, like vitamins A and C. It's awesome in soups, chili's like this Pumpkin Chili recipe, or roasted and thrown on salads, pasta, or as a side. It can even be added to smoothies!


Here's how to do it:

  1. Using a large knife, cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the strands and seeds and place them in a bowl to use later.

  2. Laying each half flat on a cutting board. Peel the skin off of the pumpkin using a regular fruit/veggie peeler.

  3. Cut each half up into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes, placing them in large ziplock baggies about 2/3 full. Lay them flat when freezing to make them easier to remove when you want to use them.

  4. You can thaw the chopped pumpkin before using, or if using in a soup or smoothie, just toss them in frozen!



Pumpkin seeds: Whether you are carving your pumpkin or not, making a snack out of the seeds is a necessity! They can be turned into such a yummy little treat and have so many health benefits, throwing them away would be a travesty.


Here are my two favorite ways to snack on pumpkin seeds:


First, collect all of the seeds in a bowl. Once you have them all, transfer them to a strainer or colander, pulling off any of the strands that the seeds are attached to. Rinse them in the strainer for a bit to get any leftover orange goop off. Lay them on a paper towel or dish towel for 15-30 minutes so they dry. Then choose which way you want to cook them!


Note: There are no servings sizes or ingredient measurements because the amount of seeds you get depends on the pumpkin size. Just guess, you really can't go wrong.


Salty Option:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. In a bowl, toss the pumpkin seeds with avocado oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper until well incorporated.

  3. Place the seeds on a baking pan and spread them out.

  4. Place the baking pan in the oven and toast for 15-20 minutes, flipping the seeds half way through.

  5. Remove from the oven when they are slightly browned. Let cool a moment and enjoy!


Sweet Option:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. In a bowl, toss the pumpkin seeds with avocado oil, pure maple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and sprinkle of salt until well incorporated.

  3. Place the seeds on a baking pan and spread them out.

  4. Place the baking pan in the oven and toast for 15-20 minutes, flipping the seeds half way through.

  5. Remove from the oven when they are slightly browned. Let cool a moment and enjoy!

  6. They will get a bit sticky on the pan so make sure to remove them from the pan within five minutes of taking them out of the oven, otherwise they can get stuck to the pan.





If you do something with your pumpkins that I haven't included here, please share below in the comments! I would love more fun and creating ideas!


XO,

Kelsey


Located in the greater Seattle area.

Serving people around the world.

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