Around 17 million pumpkins are sold every year to help Brits celebrate Halloween but it's thought that just a fifth are actually used for anything afterwards. That leaves millions of pumpkins going to waste. If you're wondering what to do with all your leftover pumpkins, we have some advice to help.
In this article, we share some simple ways to discard and reuse your leftover pumpkins as well as what you should not do with them!
Should I feed wildlife my leftover pumpkins?
There’s a common myth that putting carved pumpkins out for wildlife like hedgehogs is doing a good deed, but it’s actually very far from the truth.
Pumpkins can be very harmful and potentially fatal to animals out in the wild. This is because it’s not something that they would normally eat naturally so it can have a negative impact on their digestion - especially if they overeat.
In fact, pumpkin flesh can be extremely dangerous to hedgehogs causing them to be severely ill just as they get ready to go into hibernation.
Additionally, some pumpkins that could have been painted or have small plastic decorations added will be toxic and harmful to wildlife and not good for the environment. There’s also an issue with the rotting remains of pumpkins that are left out in the wild as they become sludgy and slippery which is a hazard for us all.
Can pumpkins go in garden waste?
Pumpkins can go in your garden waste for pickup by your garden waste collection service if you are signed up to it - but there are other ways you can dispose of your leftover pumpkins to help reduce waste.
1. Make a funky bird feeder
Whether you have carved or uncarved leftover pumpkins, a great way to reduce waste is to make a bird feeder for the garden.
A hollowed out pumpkin is the perfect shape for birds to perch on and have a nibble on the bird feed inside. You can also get children involved in making them too so it’s fun for all the family.
You can make any size bird feeder with a pumpkin, but a simple way to create one is to chop the pumpkin in half and scoop out as much of the seeds and flesh as possible creating a deeper well on one side. Make a hole in the opposite end and feed through and loop some wire so that you can hang it from a tree. Then simply fill the well with some bird feed and there you have it!
2. Add to your compost
Pumpkins contain a large volume of water so they decompose really quickly and make a great addition to your compost heap for when you come to plant in the spring.
If you chop up your leftover pumpkin into small chunks to add to your compost pile then it will break down in as little as 8 weeks.
Be sure to remove all plastic or other decorations before doing this and also remove seeds before adding to compost so they don’t get buried and start to root. You may find it easier to place your compost in a bin to keep everything neat and safe for any wandering wildlife.
What about leftover pumpkin recipes
There's plenty of pumpkin recipes that will put all that uncarved vegetable to good use! We have picked just a couple that get our mouth watering at the mere thought!
1. Dish up a delicious seed snack
There’s no need to throw away the seeds to a pumpkin and if you still have an uncarved one at home then the seeds can make a really healthy and delicious snack.
Simply scoop out the seeds from the pumpkin, wash them thoroughly and remove any stringy pumpkin flesh that sticks to them. Once you have done this, dry well with kitchen towel and place them on a baking tray. Toss around 2 teaspoons of olive oil, making sure they are evenly covered, and spread them back out on the tray into one layer. Bake in the oven at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 10 mins.
They can be eaten as a snack on their own or thrown into salads or soups.
2. Yummy pumpkin bread
Bored of pumpkin soup or just want to try something different? Why not whip up a batch of delicious pumpkin bread. If you have leftover uncarved pumpkins then this is one of the nicest and most comforting ways to dispose of your pumpkin and use up all that yummy flesh!
This is a real seasonal treat and is delicious cut thick with butter or maple syrup and a nice cuppa. We love this recipe from BBC Good Food. It has ginger and honey mixed in with the flesh!
And finally, try planting your seeds
Planting seeds is a great way to plan ahead and create your own pumpkin patch for next year! You need to clean and dry the seeds and then store them in a cool and dry place like your fridge or pantry.
The best time of year to plant them is around April so once it comes around, pick out the biggest seeds and plant them on your veg patch. This should give you some lovely fully grown pumpkins by October.