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How to make the most of your Halloween pumpkin, so it doesn’t go to waste

Carving it may be fun, but there’s a lot you can make from a pumpkin in the kitchen. Imy Brighty-Potts finds out more.

It’s that time of year again, where kids and grown-ups alike start carving up pumpkins for Halloween.

As wonderful as a jack-o’-lantern looks, however, it can create an awful lot of waste. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Vidushi Binani is co-founder and owner of Café Volonté, a holistic eatery in London. She explains the health benefits of the seasonal veg: “Pumpkins come into season in autumn, from late September to the end of November. It’s best to eat them when they’re in season, as the produce will be of the best quality and highest nutrition value at the time.

“Pumpkins are full of beta carotene, which our bodies turn into vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for building and boosting immunity, especially in the autumn, when the flu is also in season! Pumpkins contain vitamin C, as well, which will further boost immunity and ability to fight infections. Both of these vitamins also help to keep our skin healthy, which is important in the dry, colder months.”

You may not be aware you can eat every part of the pumpkin.

“We traditionally remove the skin and seeds, and throw them away as they’re not particularly pleasant to eat. But if cooked well, the skin is a great source of fibre, antioxidants, and the seeds are also high in magnesium,” says Binani.

Zwilling and Staub chef, Paul Bough, agrees we need to be less wasteful. “Although the pumpkin is first and foremost edible, 22.2 million pumpkins will be uneaten this year as people throw away their spooky carved designs after Halloween. And reducing food waste and saving money is more important than ever.”

So, how can you use yours?

For the flesh

Binani reveals you can use the flesh to make a puree: “Bake the pumpkin until it is soft, and blend just the flesh until smooth in a food processor. The puree can be used in baking sweet and savoury dishes.”

Perhaps add it as a topping to pancakes with cinnamon, add it to a pie, pop it in a crumble, or make a pumpkin seeded loaf with it.

“For those with a sweet tooth, pumpkin bread is the new banana bread! Mixing the puree with warming spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, will produce a bake that is full of flavour – and will be a welcome treat on cold autumn and winter evenings,” says Bough.

“You can also add some vegetable stock, herbs and spices to the puree and cook in a pot to make a hearty pumpkin soup,” suggests Binani. “You can also pickle the flesh of a pumpkin. Pickled fruit and veg can be stored for longer in air-tight jars, and used to add tang and punch to any meal. For example, in a sandwich or topping on a salad.”

For the skin

Leave the skin on and get cooking.

“Roasted pumpkin is a great way to eat all of it. Chop it up into small or medium chunks, with the skin on, and season with some olive oil, maple syrup, thyme, paprika and salt, and roast in the oven on a high heat for 25-30 minutes. They have a great texture and flavour, and the skin is soft enough to eat. It would go very well added into a salad or eaten as a side with a meal,” says Binani.

Don’t like the skin? “Don’t let the exterior of the pumpkin go to waste – compost it, leave in your garden and enjoy some wildlife visitors,” says Bough.

For the seeds

As far as snacks go, seeds are a great source of protein and are delicious.

“The seeds can be dried and roasted in the oven. Seasoned with some salt and paprika, they make a great crunchy snack or salad topping,” Binani says.


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