It is the perfect time of year to enjoy your pumpkin and/or squash crop. Halloween means creating brilliant pumpkin designs but it’s important to remember that pumpkins are a great food source. And they taste even better if you’ve grown them yourself.
A recent study showed that waste from Halloween celebrations included eight million pumpkins which became food waste.
So how to get the best out of your pumpkin? As long as you haven’t painted your pumpkin, you can reuse it. However, remember that while most pumpkins are edible to both animals and humans, double check that you have an edible pumpkin before you cook it.
Everything from inside your pumpkin can be recycled or used. Pumpkin innards, the stringy orange mess can be roasted, or pureed for cooking in soups.
When you’re scooping out the innards, save the seeds as they’re a brilliant snack for human or birds and squirrels.
The team here love a roasted pumpkin seed! Just follow the steps below for a tasty treat;
- Pull out all the pumpkin innards and then to separate the stringy pumpkin innards from the seeds themselves.
- Rinse the seeds thoroughly and spread them over a large baking tray.
- Choose what you want to flavour your pumpkin seeds with, you could opt for paprika, sea salt, chilli flakes. Cover the seeds in your flavour and in a few glugs of olive oil.
- Bake them at 180 degrees C for about ten minutes.
- Voila! Tasty seeds for salads or sprinkled on soups!
Can I plant the pumpkin seeds?
Yes you can! A brilliant way to grow your own is to plant the seeds from this year.
Remove the seeds from the pumpkin, make sure they are dry and clean. Spread them out on a piece of paper towel and then leave them to dry in a cool dry area. Then they’re ready for planting.
Planting pumpkin seeds is usually done a month before the last frost in the new year, so that your crop is ready for late summer/autumn time, although you can still plant pumpkin seeds as late as May.
After Halloween (as long as they’re not painted), you can leave the pumpkin outside to feed the birds. Or pop it onto the compost heap.
It’s definitely the time of year to be making soup! One of our favourites is a Thai pumpkin soup;
- 5kg pumpkin (or squash), peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 tsp sunflower oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 lemongrass, bashed a little
- 3-4 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 400ml can coconut milk
- 850ml vegetable stock
- Lime juice and sugar, for seasoning
- 1 red chilli sliced, to serve (optional)
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the pumpkin or squash in a roasting tin with half the oil and seasoning, then roast for 30 mins until golden and tender.
While the pumpkin is roasting, put the remaining oil in a pan with the onion, ginger and lemongrass. Gently cook for 8-10 mins until softened. Stir in the curry paste for 1 min, followed by the roasted pumpkin, all but 3 tbsp of the coconut milk and the stock. Bring to a simmer, cook for 5 mins, then fish out the lemongrass. Cool for a few mins, then whizz until smooth with a hand blender, or in a large blender in batches. Return to the pan to heat through, seasoning with salt, pepper, lime juice and sugar, if it needs it. Serve drizzled with the remaining coconut milk and scattered with chilli.