Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the intricately carved pumpkins once November hits? Think about it. House after house displays a hauntingly scary pumpkin to symbolize that they’re handing out candy on October 31. But then, Halloween just ends. Most of us throw the pumpkin in the garbage, and that’s that. What a waste!

With $31 billion dollars-worth of food wasted in Canada every year, there has to be a better option than just tossing the poor pumpkin in the trash. And there are some better ideas. Here are four things you can do with your pumpkin after Halloween.

Eat it!

Okay, so if you have culinary chops, you know that small “sugar pumpkins” are sweet and delicious, while the larger “carving pumpkins” are not as flavourful. True. But that just means you need the right recipes to cook and bake them into something amazing. You don’t want to cube a large pumpkin and roast it, as the flavour won’t be as good as with a small pumpkin. Instead, cut into cubes and steam or boil them, then puree. That magical orange pumpkin puree is high in vitamins A and C, and is perfect for muffins, loaves, quick breads, smoothies – even pumpkin hummus and pumpkin spice lattes.

Note: Keep in mind, these culinary options won’t work for pumpkins that have been carved and left outside for days or have been picked over by insects and rodents. Yeah, definitely don’t eat those. However, if you carve your pumpkin an hour or two before the big night, leave it in the windowsill, and cut it up into “food” the same evening, you can save that pumpkin from the trash bin.

Display it!

Use your pumpkin as a planter for a small potted plant, or make it the centrepiece on your autumn dining table. If you are extremely crafty, you can pull a page from Martha Stewart and turn your pumpkin into a bird feeder!

And once you’re truly done with your pumpkin, take any scraps that remain and…

Compost it!

Food scraps and yard waste account for 30 percent of our garbage, but can be composted instead, and pumpkin is perfect for the composter. It counts as a vegetable and would be part of the “green layer” of a compost bin. If you don’t have a compost bin, ask a neighbor or see if your community has a “pumpkin pick-up day” where they divert your jack-o-lantern to a city compost.  If your city has a green bin program, you can cut your pumpkin up and add it to your green bin waste.

Dig it!

Even without a compost bin, you can still return your pumpkin to Mother Nature. Simply dig a hole in a garden bed or your yard and add the cut-up pumpkin. Replace soil over the hole and let the compost take place naturally through the winter. Remove the pumpkin seeds first or you could end up growing a pumpkin patch!

 

Join the conversation: What do you do with your pumpkin after Halloween?

Try this overnight pumpkin porridge.

Cara Rosenbloom

Author Cara Rosenbloom

Registered Dietitian Cara Rosenbloom is the president of Words to Eat By, a Toronto-based nutrition communications company specializing in writing, recipe development and nutrition education. Read her blog and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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