Keep your Halloween pumpkins out of landfills with these easy, planet-friendly ways to give them new purpose.
Searching for the perfect prospective jack-o-lantern, picking out gourd varieties for decorations, sipping on delicious apple cider — going to the pumpkin patch is a quintessential fall activity.
But after a few weeks on display, those prized pumpkins from the patch inevitably start to lose their perk. When this happens, most people toss them in the trash. An estimated 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in landfills each year, and as they decompose they release methane — a dangerous greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change — into the atmosphere.
The upside is you don’t have to throw away your fall pumpkins. This Halloween season, reduce your carbon footprint and dispose of your old pumpkin in an eco-friendly way. Here’s how.
Pumpkins make a great addition to the compost bin. Simply chop them up and add the bits into your mix. (For jack-o-lanterns, be sure to remove any melted candle wax before disposal.) Composting not only limits the greenhouse gasses associated with your Halloween pumpkin, by spring, it’ll be transformed into nutrient-rich soil for your garden.
Pumpkins are packed with healthy vitamins and minerals and are totally fine for most animals to eat. If you know anyone with chickens or goats in the area, give them a call to see if they might want your pumpkins. Or, if you live in a wooded area, put them by the tree line and enjoy watching the deer, raccoons, and other animals come by for an afternoon snack.
As long as the meat in your pumpkins hasn’t started to deteriorate or been exposed to the air, they should be just fine to process and preserve for your own homemade pumpkin purée. Making it is simple. Pumpkin purée is also an incredibly healthy (and delicious) addition to everything from pies to soups. Here’s how to process your pumpkins.
Read more: Grain- and Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie Cups
Homemade Pumpkin Purée Recipe
What you need:
- Large stockpot
- Long metal tongs
- Three large heatproof bowls
- Small bowl for seeds
- Large metal spoon
- Quart freezer bags
- Fill a stockpot a little over halfway full of water and set to boil while you prepare the pumpkin.
- Thoroughly wash the outside of the pumpkin with warm water to remove any dirt or pesticide residue.
- Remove the top of the pumpkin. Set it aside in your scrap pile for compost.
- Scrape out the seeds. Place them in the small bowl and set aside.
- Once the majority of the seeds have been removed, carefully use a large knife to cut wedges out of your pumpkin. It’s not important that they be uniform, this is simply to make it easier to fit everything in the pot.
- Once the pieces have been separated, finish scraping the seeds and stringy portions out of the inside of the pumpkin.
- If necessary, cut the chunks of pumpkin into smaller pieces for easier handling. (Around five inches is ideal).
- Once the water is boiling, put the pumpkin pieces into the pot, ensuring they’re covered with water.
- Allow to boil until tender. You can test its readiness by pressing the edge of a spoon into the meat).
- Once tender, carefully use the tongs to move the pumpkin pieces into a heatproof bowl to cool.
- When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scrape the meat out and put it in a separate bowl. Discard skin into the third bowl.
- Allow the meat to sit for about an hour. This will allow the pumpkin to release excess water it has absorbed.
- Drain excess water. Using an immersion blender, purée the meat.
- Divide it among reusable freezer bags and freeze it for long-term storage.
Read more: How to Make a Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte
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