Happy Waste-Free Halloween!

OK, so it’s Halloween and you might to go to a Halloween party, go trick-or-treating or watch horror films. Or, you may just want to make jack-o’-lanterns because you like arts and crafts and join in the tradition of placing one outside your door to scare the neighbours. This is great, but as you cut open your pumpkin you may be wondering something.

What is this horrible stringy orange stuff inside my pumpkin? And what should I do with it? Should I eat it or throw it away? YouTube videos on how to make jack-o’-lanterns often neglect this too, just showing a hand scraping everything away but not showing what to do with it after.

So, what’s inside your pumpkin? Well, some people call it ‘pumpkin brains’ which sounds very Halloweeney (if that’s even a word), guts, goop, goo, pumpkin slime, pulp and even just “yucky stuff” as people refuse to touch it – especially children and some adults. Whichever name you choose to call it, wasting it causes so much environmental damage.

Not to be too serious, but the tradition of Halloween has almost been overshadowed by the interesting fact that, even though pumpkins look great as jack-o’-lanterns, they are in fact ‘food’ to be eaten like everything else. Instead, they are seen as a mere decoration for Halloween.

According to research by Unilever and behaviour change charity Hubbub, 15 million pumpkins per year go to waste instead of being eaten in the UK. Hopefully, my tips will be useful so every time you buy a pumpkin you will know what to do with the inner parts, and how to dispose of the pumpkin after Halloween.

Inner pumpkin recipes

You can create Pumpkin Pulp Pasta Sauce with Spaghetti by removing seeds from the pulp, boiling the pulp in water for 5 mins, putting the pulp into a food processor (until it resembles a sauce) putting it in a saucepan to heat with a can of whole peeled plum tomatoes, Italian spices, tomato puree, stir for 10 mins and there’s your pumpkin sauce.

As for the seeds, you can make Spooky Spicy Pumpkin Seeds. Start by separating the seeds from the pulp by placing the pulp and seeds in a bowl of water. The seeds will float to the top making it easier to separate seeds from the pulp. Put the pulp in one separate bowl and place the seeds evenly spread out on kitchen roll and dry the seeds. Once dried, place in a preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Sprinkle mild curry powder on the seeds and spread seeds onto a baking tray. Roast the seeds until brown and crunchy for 20 to 30 mins while stirring and turning seeds over, making sure they don’t burn.

Recycle your Pumpkin

After Halloween is over you may think about what you’re going to do with your pumpkin. Well, you can recycle it, meaning put your pumpkin in your food waste caddy. Once placed in your caddy bin (using compostable bin liners or newspaper to line it) the bin will be taken away by your council to be recycled into fertiliser to grow more pumpkins and other foods. If you don’t have a caddy bin, compost your pumpkin in your garden or allotment.