81107thumbThere is likely no other fruit that gets wasted quite like pumpkins. Almost all get hollowed and carved into Jack o’lanterns, illuminated from within for Halloween, and then discarded or added to compost within the next few days after Halloween. If they stay too long in the yard or on the porch, they mold or get partly eaten by squirrels. They were fun while they lasted, but the party is over.

Most people who use pumpkins for Halloween décor do not consider recycling them in the kitchen. Pumpkins carved into Jack o’lanterns are considered to be as disposable as cut flowers that have started to fade. Realistically, Jack o’lanterns that were carved several days prior to Halloween are probably too far gone by now to be recycled, and some are too sooty and toasted inside.

Of course, those that are not so deteriorated can be used in the kitchen like other winter squash. Sooty or toasted portions are easily cut away and discarded. The brightest orange pumpkins that were bred to make the best Jack o’lanterns, are not as meaty or as well flavored as those that are grown for culinary use, but they are not bad either. Their thinner shells are quick to bake or roast.

It seems that most pumpkins in supermarkets this year are not quite as bright orange as those that were developed specifically for Jack o’lanterns. They also seem to be more dense with thicker shells, as if bred to be recycled in the kitchen after Halloween. The smaller and more brownish pumpkins that are heavy with thick shells are probably still the best for pies, even if no fun to carve.

White, pink, green, yellow, red and bluish gray pumpkins are as variable as their colors are. Any are worth trying in the kitchen. Although some are quite bland, others have rather distinctive flavor. Those that are deeply furrowed or very lumpy are of course awkward to work with. Like other winter squash, pumpkins are very tough, so it is important to be careful when cutting them into pieces.

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13 thoughts on “Pumpkins Need Not Be Wasted

  1. Agreed , it is a shame to discard a highly nutritious vegetable such as a pumpkin . The variety of uses are nearly unlimited . Pies, cakes , puddings , soups, casseroles are among some of the ways they are used. Pumpkin can be cooked and frozen for future use .
    Good post !

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And now I’m remembering “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin-eater, had a wife and couldn’t keep her. Put her in a pumpkin shell, and there he kept her very well.” It was in my first Mother Goose book!

    And you’re right about all the good uses for pumpkin. I have my own favorite receipes for soup, bread, pie, and mixed roasted veggies. We’re lucky enough here to have a seller at market who provides small pie pumpkins, and they’re delicious.

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    1. Thank you.
      When I lived in town, there were no children in our neighborhood. However, we were the most popular neighborhood for trick or treaters! It was rad that parents liked our neighborhood so much. The tiny houses on small parcels provided more doors to knock on within a small area than any other neighborhood, and it was a very safe neighborhood. It also meant that we all had Jack o’lanterns. I could not can all that pumpkin, so many got wasted.

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  3. Speaking of birds…I have collected the ‘disposed’ pumpkins from the village and fed them to the chickens. Even if they are a little to far gone for us, they make excellent fodder for our birds. Seeds and all! Wate not, want not, as my pop would say!

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    1. They are popularly collected for pigs here. When I lived in town, neighbors left several on my porch annually so that I could can them, but I could not can them all. There is such a thing as too much.

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