Pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup? After the traditional pumpkin carving session, there are many other ways to recycle your jack-o’-lantern. From compost to bread rolls, facials or a vase, here are some ideas for how to reuse your old gourds.
After having carved your jack-o’-lantern, don’t throw away the scooped-out flesh and filaments. Even if you aren’t a fan of pumpkin puree, you can always use the flesh as compost in your vegetable garden. Cut-up pieces of the gourds can help prepare the soil for the winter. Mixed with dead leaves, they’ll protect your most fragile plants from the cold. Don’t skip removing the seeds, or they might sprout in the compost.
Unless you are planning on planting them in your garden in the spring, you can turn your seeds into a delicious snack. The seeds of butternut squash, pumpkin, red kuri squash and most other gourds can be roasted in the oven. Wash the seeds and let them dry out all night long. The next day, season them with the spices you prefer — paprika, for example, or olive oil and salt — and put them in the oven at 160°C for 15 minutes. Check on them regularly to prevent the seeds from burning; you may need to turn them over halfway through.
Leftover peel from butternut squash, pumpkin or any other gourds can be used to make a handy vegetable stock. Put the peel and veggies in a big pot of water, and add any vegetables you have lying around. Season with salt and pepper, and let the stock cook at a low heat for two hours. You can use this preparation like any vegetable stock. Try filling ice trays with the gourd stock so you can defrost and use it in small quantities when needed.
Turn it into a vase
If you’re more of an interior decorator than a chef, you can always reuse your lantern as a vase. After Halloween, fill the gourds with moss, branches and flowers, to bring a fall feel to your indoor or outdoor decor.
Cosmetic brands already tout the many benefits of pumpkin for the skin, so why not DIY your own gourd-based cosmetics? Pumpkins pack vitamin A and minerals to purify and illuminate your skin. Crush the seeds with a drizzle of olive oil to make a paste to apply as a face mask for fifteen minutes. You can use the gourd flesh mixed with brown sugar and honey to make a home-made natural scrub. Pumpkin purée mixed with honey can also work as a natural moisturiser.
Pumpkin bread is an American tradition (with Irish roots) that goes along with lantern carving. The pumpkin pulp is mixed with flour, fresh yeast and a bit of salt and the resulting dough is shaped into a ball. To make it look even more like a pumpkin, tie pieces of string around the ball, crossing them over at the top, so that when the dough rises, it will take on the shape of a gourd. Don’t forget to add some toasted pumpkin seeds to the dough.
(Main and featured image: Taylor Rooney/Unsplash)