Here’s How to Prevent Jack-O-Lantern Food Waste

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Here’s How to Prevent Jack-O-Lantern Food Waste

Fall is my favorite season of the year, perhaps because in many ways, it’s the most food-focused. Thanksgiving, of course, is a holiday essentially completely centered around food. And although Halloween is a chance to indulge in all things spooky, ultimately, it’s really all about the candy. No Halloween celebration is complete without a jack-o-lantern, but ironically, the part of the holiday when you take a knife to seasonal produce isn’t usually about the food at all—after you’ve carved a face into your gourd, you might throw all of its innards in the trash, leaving its hard exterior to rot on your front porch before you finally decide to throw it away.

But carving a jack-o-lantern doesn’t have to be quite so wasteful. By keeping and utilizing the pulp and seeds, you can prevent food waste and stretch your grocery budget a bit further in the process. Check out these uses for your pumpkin innards so you can enjoy a food waste-free holiday.

1. Roast the pumpkin seeds.

If there’s one step you’re going to take to prevent jack-o-lantern food waste from this list, it should be saving your pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds can make the most delicious snack when you drizzle them with olive oil, cover them with a salty seasoning mixture and pop them into the oven for a few minutes. Once they’re roasted, they’ll crisp up into an undeniably tasty snack. Alternatively, you can keep the seeds to include in bread or pastry recipes for some extra texture and nutrition.

2. Use the pulp in conjunction with canned pumpkin.

Whether you’re making pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread or just about any other pumpkin-heavy treat this season, you’re probably going to need to buy some canned pumpkin. However, by putting your pumpkin pulp in the food processor and adding it to canned pumpkin, you can make the canned stuff stretch a lot further. Not ready to bake quite yet? Just freeze the pulp until you’re ready to use it in a recipe.

3. Use pumpkin scraps for homemade vegetable broth.

If you’re trying to reduce food waste in general, one of the best things you can do is save your vegetable scraps so you can use them later to make a broth. Just freeze the scraps, then throw them into a pot of boiling water for a few hours when you’re finally ready to make a big batch of broth. Can’t figure out what to do with your pumpkin pulp? Add it to your veggie scraps, and use it to make a vegetable broth with a distinctly autumnal flavor. You can then use that broth to make soup, boil or steam other ingredients or even to make richer, more flavorful pasta.

4. Make pumpkin hummus.

One of the best parts of making homemade hummus is the fact that you can add just about any ingredient you want to the recipe. Garlic, spices and good-quality olive oil are some good candidates. If you’re looking for an easy way to use up some leftover pumpkin pulp, you can throw some of that in the food processor to make a pumpkin-flavored hummus. Spread it on salads and wraps, use a dollop in rice or quinoa bowls or just eat it with fresh vegetables and crackers as a snack.

5. Add pumpkin to your oatmeal.

Oatmeal is one of the simplest, easiest and healthiest breakfasts you can have in the morning, but let’s be honest: The flavor can get pretty bland after a while, especially if you’re always making your oatmeal with the same ingredients. If you’re looking for a way to switch up your daily oatmeal routine, consider adding some pumpkin pulp to the recipe. It’ll add a depth of flavor that pumpkin pie spice could never match, and it’s a great way to get some added nutrition into your diet first thing in the morning.

6. Compost your jack-o-lantern.

Once your jack-o-lantern starts to rot, your first instinct may be to throw it in the trash, but composting is a better way to handle the mess. If you already compost at home, great! Just throw the jack-o-lantern in with your other food scraps. If not, check to see if your city or town has local compost pickup. For those who don’t have access to city composting services, check with local farms to see if they offer the service.

Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.

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