Recycling Your Holiday Pumpkins

After Halloween, what can you do with your pumpkins?

If you have a whole pumpkin, scoop it out, bake the seeds and puree the fruit to be used for pumpkin pie. It’s high in vitamins and minerals.

A recommended easy way to make puree is to cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy parts, place the halves face down on a baking tray and add a cup of water to the tray. Then bake it for about 90 minutes to cook the pumpkin. Scoop out the pumpkin pulp and puree it in a blender. 

You can also add a bit of puree to anything to make it pumpkin spiced, from coffee to bread or cake, to butter. Make pumpkin soup, ravioli, or mix chunks with ground turkey and beans to make turkey chili. Pumpkin can be substituted in any butternut squash recipe. You can also add it to vegetable stock along with celery, onions and parsley. 

Dogs love pumpkin, which helps with digestion. Add some puree to your dog’s dinner or bake chunks for a treat, or even make dog cookies.

The seeds are also rich in vitamins and minerals. Drizzle a little olive oil and salt, and roast them in the oven for a snack. Some cooks add garlic, butter, seasoned salt or curry powder for a little zing.

You can save some seeds to plant next season. Rinse them off and let them air dry completely on a paper towel for about four weeks, and then store them in an envelope until planting time in June. 

You can pickle the rind. There are a surprising number of recipes online for pickled pumpkin rind. Ingredients run the gamut from mustard and white wine to cinnamon and black pepper!

Or put rind skin into a dehydrator with sea salt and paprika to make pumpkin crisps that are full of vitamins. They will resemble sweet potato fries.

For those who are more nature-minded than kitchen-savvy, a pumpkin goes a long way toward feeding backyard buddies. If you used a candle in the jack-o-lantern, scrape out the wax first. For either a whole or a carved pumpkin, cut it into small sections to spread throughout the yard. It is a tasty treat for squirrels, birds, foxes, chipmunks, rabbits, deer and badgers. If you live near a zoo or wildlife habitat, they may welcome pumpkin donations to help feed their animals. 

Crafty? Recycle the gourd into a fall planter or a bird feeder.

As they begin to deteriorate, whatever is left can be composted in your backyard. Zero waste!