7 Ways to Upcycle your Pumpkin

7 Ways to Upcycle your Pumpkin

Pumpkins are a time honoured Halloween tradition but they also contribute to a spooky amount of landfill waste...

Why should this scare you?

When pumpkins are thrown away, they get trapped under piles and piles of compressed trash. This forces them to decompose without the presence of oxygen (aka anaerobic decomposition). When this happens, methane is released as a byproduct, which is a VERY powerful greenhouse gas. Just how powerful? Compared to other greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and water vapor, methane is 28 times more effective at trapping heat over a 100 year time frame, which makes it anywhere from 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 over a couple of decades. So 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins are actually quite frightening for rising global temperatures.

So what should you do with your big orange friend?

A few ideas...

COMPOST IT!

If your pumpkin has been sitting outside for the majority of October, chances are, it’s unsuitable to be eaten (think:dirt, animals droppings, and bacteria). The best thing to do with it now is to compost it! Composting will allow it to breakdown properly (with the presence of oxygen), which means no methane emission.

You can do it in your own back garden (if you have a composter of your own!) or simply place it inside your brown bin.

ROAST THE SEEDS!

As you probably remember from the days of carving as a kid, pumpkin guts are filled with seeds that can be roasted and eaten. Pumpkin seeds are full of fiber, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and iron! 

Simply wash and dry the seeds and place them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper (and whatever else spices you like e.g. paprika, cumin...). Roast until golden et voila!

MAKE CHIPS (with the skin)!

Make chips with the leftover skins from the pumpkin! Sprinkle them with salt and spices, and then bake them on a cookie sheet at a low temperature until they’re crispy. If you have a dehydrator, dehydrate them overnight at 115 degrees. Afterward, store them in an airtight container to keep them fresh and crisp.

MAKE PUMPKIN & COCONUT DELIGHT!

The pumpkin’s versatility and naturally sweet flavour also means pumpkin can be used to make desserts, like the classic pie or... this delicious pumpkin & coconut delight!

A very traditional dessert in Brazil and I can safely say - it’s to die for!

You’ll need:
-1kg of pumpkin (squash or pumpkin, the orange one is the best!)
- 500g of Demerara sugar
- 4 units of clove
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 200g of desiccated coconut
- 300ml of water

Method:
Remove the skin + seeds of your pumpkin - you can save the seeds and toast them later with a pinch of salt and paprika - check out our Reels to see what I’ve done with our seeds!
Dice the pumpkin
Put all the ingredients in a pot and let them cook in low heat for 1h30/2h
Stir it often - you don’t want the pumpkin to stick on the bottom of your pot!
Add a little more water if you think the pumpkin isn’t soft enough
Once the mixture turns into a nice and creamy paste (not too dry!) transfer it to a container and let it cool down
You can serve it with cakes, scones and traditionally in Brazil we serve it with white cheese

A delicious new Halloween dessert right there!

MAKE VEGGIE BROTH

Making cooking stock with leftover food scraps and veggie odds and ends (think: wilted greens, carrot peels, onion skins, and pumpkins guts!) is a great way to cut down on organic waste. Add in veggies that you have lying around (I personally like to add onion, celery, carrots, herbs, and the pumpkin skin, guts and seeds), cover with water, simmer for an hour, and then strain it into a jar using a cheesecloth. It can be kept it in the fridge for a week, or you can freeze it and use it for up to three months.

BOIL IT! STEAM IT!

After scooping out the guts, cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces and peel off the skin using a veggie peeler. Compost the guts and skin (or save it to make a veggie broth!), then cut the pieces up into cubes, and boil or steam them until soft. Add to soups, stews, or curries for a yummy and hearty flavour.

MAKE SEED BUTTER!

It's so easy to make your own homemade Pumpkin Seed Butter! This healthy recipe contains only two ingredients: toasted pumpkin seeds and a bit of sea salt. It’s a great nut-free spread for allergy sufferers, packed with nutrients, and is a beautiful vibrant green colour too!

You'll need just two ingredients:

  • A handful of pumpkin seeds
  • A smidge of sea salt 

Toasting the seeds is totally optional, but the flavour is so incredibly delightful I urge you not to skip it! Toasting the pumpkin seeds will also help the pumpkin butter come together more quickly, as the oils will come out of the seeds much more readily. 

Spread the seeds out on a baking sheet and toast ‘em in the oven for about 15 minutes. I prefer to follow my nose and pull them out when they start to smell nutty, but you’ll want to keep a close eye at around the 15 minute mark.

Then, after your toasted pumpkin seeds cool down a bit, transfer them to the bowl of your food processor and start blitzing!

I stopped my food processor every few minutes and snapped a picture so you can see what the stages of pumpkin seed butter look like.

You’ll note that it’s at first quite crumbly, and then as the oils in the pumpkin seeds start to come out it will form a ball.

It goes through first a hard ball stage – you may want to stop your food processor and break it up a couple of times – followed by a soft ball stage – note my finger print in there.

And then, magically, at around the 15 minute mark, the pumpkin seeds will yield into a soft, smooth pumpkin seed butter.

At this stage I season with a bit of salt and run the food processor for another minute or two just to finish it up.

At the end of the processing time, both your food processor and the pumpkin seed butter will be quite warm. This is normal – the machine has been working hard!

If your food processor is getting REALLY warm or your smelling a whole lot of that motor smell, you may want to stop the process and give it a rest (we don't want to break your machine here eh!). You can always start up again later!

It also means that when the pumpkin seed butter cools down it will be a bit firmer than it is now. If you prefer your nut and seed butters to be on the runny side (like that you could dip apple slices into or drizzle over porridge), you can always add 1-2 tablespoons of neutral flavoured oil, like almond oil, or even coconut oil if you like the flavour.

If you’re happy with a thicker, more spreadable butter, then you’re good to go!