More than 2 billion pounds of pumpkin are grown in the United States each year, but staggeringly, almost two-thirds of all pumpkins grown are destined to end up as food waste - trashed rather than composted or eaten.
Halloween is the largest contributor to the pumpkin food waste problem, with most people carving their jack-o-lanterns and discarding the inside, ultimately discarding the lantern too once Halloween is over.
Here at Ayoub’s, we’re passionate about helping to reduce unnecessary food waste - so here’s a quick guide to making the most out of your Halloween pumpkin and every pumpkin you buy.
Are our Halloween pumpkins safe to eat?
The truth is that the vast majority of pumpkins produced for Halloween are grown as decorations, meaning that they have been selectively bred for their size, and shape rather than for their flesh and flavor. This doesn’t make them inedible, but it can make them less enjoyable to eat - but that isn’t an excuse to just throw them in the trash. Even pumpkins grown for decoration can be used and recycled in more sustainable ways.
Eating your Halloween pumpkin
The flesh, guts, and seeds of Halloween pumpkins are all edible, so don’t throw them away when you carve the inside of your jack-o-lantern. Separate the flesh and the seeds into two bowls as you carve for use in other dishes. The flesh can be steamed, or roasted as a delicious vegetable side dish, blended into a soup, or combined with eggs, condensed milk, sugar, and spices to make a delicious pumpkin pie filling. If you don’t plan on eating it straight away, then it can also be frozen for another day.
Another tasty part of your pumpkin to save is the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are nutritious and delicious and can be eaten alone as a snack, or sprinkled onto dishes for some satisfying crunch. To prepare your pumpkin seeds simply separate them from the stringy parts, rinse them, and then spread them on a baking tray with some olive oil. Next, you can either roast them at 180C for approximately 10 minutes or lower the temperature to 120C and roast them for approximately 25 minutes. Whichever method you choose, keep a close eye on your seeds so that they don’t burn.
Sadly, most grocery store pumpkins are not grown for their seeds, which means that they are often smaller and tougher than the varieties that we sell here at Ayoub’s. If your attempt at roasting pumpkin seeds is unsuccessful, or you find them too tough and chewy to enjoy, then we have plenty of delicious roasted seeds for you to try.
What to do with your finished jack-o-lantern
When Halloween is over, you definitely don’t want to be eating your left-over jack-o-lantern, but there are still things that you can do with it. The easiest way to sustainably dispose of your pumpkin is to chop it up and to add it to your compost so that it can decompose and provide nutrients to the soil which you can then use in your garden. If you have goats, sheep, pigs, or chickens, then they may also enjoy a nibble.
So there you have it - now you know how to make the most out of your pumpkin jack-o-lantern so that you do not contribute to pumpkin food waste.