/ Food & Drink

Halloween: is your pumpkin going to waste?

Pumpkins Which?

It’s hard to escape Halloween. You’ll struggle to walk into any shop or supermarket without crossing a spooky display – a luring skeleton looking back at you, stacks of sweets on offer and piles and piles of pumpkins.

If that isn’t enough to convince you how much the UK loves celebrating this ‘holiday’, our overall Halloween spend is reportedly expected to exceed £300m this year. That’s a lot of creepy costumes, sweets and pumpkins.

Now, you can reuse a costume – keep it for next year perhaps – sweets are treats and should last a bit longer than a few days, but what about all those pumpkins – are they just going to waste?

Purposeful pumpkins

In my opinion, it just wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkins – a glowing Jack-o’-lantern poised the doorstep.

Pumpkin carving can be great fun and a nice cheap creative activity to keep both kids and adults entertained. One of our team members’ children painted our pumpkins a lovely Which? shade of red – and we’re reliably informed that they really enjoyed getting creative.

Painting the pumpkins red!

Painting the pumpkins red!

But, perhaps rather unsurprisingly, a recent study carried out by environmental charity Hubbub and Unilever found that around 15 million pumpkins, or 70% of those purchased, aren’t actually eaten after Halloween. Apparently, that’s enough for everyone for a bowl of soup for everyone in the UK; a pretty scary figure!

It’s seems a shame to see all these pumpkins go to waste. These large squashes are pretty versatile, while making brilliant decorations they can also be used for much more.

So here are just a few suggestions on how to using up your pumpkin:

Pumpkin puree: this seems to be the basis for pretty much any pumpkin product – using a food processor to puree your pumpkin, you’ll be able to make pumpkin butter, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin ravioli or maybe just soup.

Also, apparently natural pumpkin face masks are a popular product made from this puree, organic and vegan friendly, plastering some of those natural vitamins on your face is said to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated? *Try at own risk, you may smell very pumpkin-y for the rest of the day.

Roast pumpkin seeds: these oven roasted snacks can be apparently enjoyed on their own or sprinkled over your meal, plus roasting them at home costs a fraction of the price of supermarket bought seeds. Maybe try vanilla, cinnamon and sugar to sweeten or add some heat with paprika and chilli. You could even offer the pumpkin seeds as a ‘Trick or Treat’ option, or is that a bit mean…?

Pumpkin pie: traditionally this is an American dish and probably for the more advanced baker. Vegetables are becoming a staple in modern baking recipes, added to muffins, cakes and even bread.

Garden usage: apparently the bowl-like bottom of the pumpkin can be re-used as a bird feeder. Pierce through some string and hang it up outside, voila! Pumpkins can also make useful flower pots for new seedlings, composting away over time.

Now, I’m sure there are lots of other ways to re-purpose your pumpkin and other Halloween paraphernalia – so, do you have any other top tips?


Interesting leader, Grace; and at this time of the year no doubt you’re seen as a Kindred spirit? (Sorry…

I would have thought you felt very attuned with the time of year – it is Hallow-Ian, after all!

And I though mine was bad…

Please see the comment on editing 🙂 (New Which? Conversation) 🙂

I ❤️ pumpkin pie and I should eat/make it more often. Might not be best to eat a pumpkin that’s been painted though 😀

Many years ago after Halloween mrs r made a pumpkin pie. When sampling the pumpkin filling she had to add more and more sweet flavours to give it any chance of being palatable and in the end it was consigned to the bin. However it saved us from a severe case of temporary obesity. Did she miss some important step in the process? I don’t remember Pumpkin Pie figuring in the GBBO; maybe there was a reason for that.

sian says:
31 October 2016

It is best not use the pumpkins destined for carving as these are not grown for the taste. if you can buy the canned variety its much nicer for cooking with the Americans use this version.

The Wilko store in Norwich has a blackboard outside luring us in to buy their ghoulish get-ups which are all in the worst possible taste. It signs off by saying “Happy Hallowe’en”. I hadn’t realised it was supposed to be a time of jollity and merriment. This ghastly festival has knocked Guy Fawkes Night off the agenda except for the bombshell maniacs.

Grand Haven: Bethke Farms is a quick drive from Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Holland with fields of pumpkins that make it an authentic pumpkin picking experience for your family. There are also have hayrides and a corn maze.

It’s that time of year again – I’m attempting to make my first EVER pumpkin pie tomorrow. Any tips?

You mean apart from eating out? 🙂

mrs r made one from a Halloe’en pumkin many years ago, and kept adding sweet things like honey – and adding…..to try to make it taste nice. It seems best to roast chunks and add lots of spices. Is it worth it?

“Karla Jenkins is a cow/calf specialist at the University of Nebraska. She says pumpkin is a good alternative livestock feed.” Perhaps we could all return our used pumpkins to the supermarket to turn them into beef and pork, instead of chucking them in the bin?

That’s the contingency plan. I’m feeling positive but the rest of my house aren’t!

Hey Malcolm, I heard that pumpkin is really good for dogs as well so I got one for mine to have with their dinner. I got a pumpkin that was specifically meant to be good for cooking – rather than carving (it’s blue!) – and I’ve stocked up on plenty of cinnamon.

While I agree that pumpkins are much easier/safer to carve, why do we follow the Americans in thinking “pumpkin” instead of turnip/baggy/swede? We always used the cut- out middle bits of our lantern to make mashed tatties and turnip to hide sixpences or other treats just like Christmas pudding or birthday cake. The whole idea of guising was to use whatever you could find to disguise and scare and, of course there was no reward without some song, dance, joke or whatever.