It’s that time of year again – when people head to farmyard patches or supermarkets, on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin for a fearsome carving. But behind the tradition, and inside the humble pumpkin, is a staggering amount of squash that gets wasted.
Experts say that every October, the UK wastes around 18,000 tons of pumpkin as a direct result of Halloween. Martin Goss, a Colchester council representative responsible for waste says: “Each year, more and more pumpkins are being used for Halloween decorations, and its important that these don’t become a Halloween nightmare and end up in a landfill. To avoid this, we’re asking Colchester residents to recycle their pumpkin leftovers by cutting them up and placing them in with their weekly food waste or, if they are too large, place them on top or next to their caddy.” Goss’s message is one that needs to be followed by the rest of the UK.
Originating from the US, Halloween traditions are gaining favour in the UK, yet citizens are reluctant to take on a large part of the US Halloween culture: cooking. According to new figures, two in five Britons now buy a pumpkin at this time of year, but only a third choose to cook the scooped-out insides after carving.
If you’re thinking of carving your own jack-o-lantern, make sure the fruit of your pumpkin doesn’t get wasted.
Even if you don’t like the taste, there are plenty of ways you can prevent pumpkin waste.
1. Get creative in the kitchen
Use the flesh to rustle-up delicious pumpkin pies, soups, smoothies or houmous.
2. Snack on the seeds
Pumpkin seeds can be toasted and seasoned, or eaten raw. They’re a great source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids, and a healthy snack or addition to salads.
3. Feed pumpkin to pets or wildlife
Pet hamsters and wild birds will munch on pumpkin seeds raw, whilst deer enjoy pumpkin shells. Try cutting up old carvings into quarters, and placing them in woodlands or meadows, where deer are known to graze.
4. Get pumpkin pretty
Pumpkin flesh is abundant in zinc and vitamins A, C and E, which makes its purée healthy to apply to the skin. Make a DIY face mask by mixing five teaspoons of pumpkin purée with three teaspoons of brown sugar – which will naturally exfoliate your skin – and a tiny splash of plant-based milk. Stir well, before applying to your face in circular motions. Relax for up to 20 minutes and allow the pumpkin goodness to seep into your skin.
5. Grow more pumpkins!
Hold onto seeds until April, which is when the optimum pumpkin seed-sowing season begins, and prepare to have your own patch next year. For more information on how to grow pumpkins, visit bbc.co.uk/gardening.