Many of us enjoy the colours of the leaves as we enter into Autumn, it’s a beautiful time of year with the changing landscape. As the nights get darker, lots of people take to dressing up and ringing door bells to try and gather lots of sweets or to win competitions with their costumes. Its also the season for picking squashes, and pumpkins have become popular with Halloween for carving to make scary jack-o’-lanterns, but why not get more out of your pumpkin?
Did you know millions of pumpkins are wasted every year in the UK alone, food waste is a huge environmental issue right now and the ‘scary’ season is no exception. So here are 5 great ways to use your pumpkin and truly get the most enjoyment out of them:
- Toast the seeds
- Punch bowl
- Carve it up
- Create delicious pumpkin soup
- Make spiced pumpkin lattes
Don’t forget to compost the inedible skin and scooped out insides so the nutrients could possibly grow a pumpkin for next year!
1) Toasting pumpkin seeds
To get started with your pumpkin, cut a lid off the pumpkin which can be placed back on later. Get two bowls ready and taking a large metal spoon scoop the insides out separating seeds into one bowl and the stringy insides into the other. Once all the insides are removed, take the separated seeds and give them a wash in warm water to remove any residue.
Grab a baking tray and spray with oil or spread some oil using a pastry brush to cover the whole tray, spread the seeds out evenly and coat them lightly with the oil on the tray. Now season the seeds well with salt and pepper and place in a pre-heated fan assisted oven at 180 degrees, and cook for 20-25 minutes until toasted to a golden-brown colour.
Let the seeds cool and serve them up as a snack to crunch on.
Pumpkin scooped out
Pumpkin seeds washed
Ready for toasting
Delicious and ready to eat
2) Pumpkin Punch Bowl (serves 4)
This one is aimed at the adults, but non-alcoholic punch can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Now that your pumpkin has been scooped out its ready to use as a very exciting punch bowl, with its very own lid to prevent insects from enjoying your cocktail as much as you are! Take a measuring jug and using water work out the volume capacity of your pumpkin (our medium pumpkin comfortably managed 1ltr). Use this water to also clean out the pumpkin further and get any inside stranglers removed. Now you know the capacity you can fill it with your favourite cocktail, here’s our recommended rum punch recipe for you to try…
Dark spiced rum x 100mls
Pineapple juice x 750mls (additional to top us if required)
2 x orange peel (use a peeler to take this)
2 x orange, freshly squeezed (use the peeled ones)
1 plum, chopped
1-2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
Nutmeg - grated to taste
Mix the rum, plum, orange peel, cinnamon sticks, star anise and nutmeg together and leave for 1 hour to gain flavour. Then add the orange juice (squeezed) and pineapple juice to the rum mixture and pour into the pumpkin. Use a ladle to serve up this delicious drink, and for an added touch add extra orange peel into small glasses and sugar coat the rim of the glass to make your cocktail really stand out.
3) Carve out a scary pumpkin face
Once you’ve fully indulged on rum punch wash the pumpkin out and set it aside for carving.
If you’re new to pumpkin carving there are lots of tips online on how best to do this, you can even buy special tools to help add small details to your carving. My advice is to draw out your design and then cut this out and draw around it to add a stencil to your pumpkin so you have a clear-cutting line. Be careful with knives and never cut towards yourself.
I went with the scariest animal I know…
4) Delicious pumpkin soup (serves 4)
Now that all the locals have enjoyed your carving skills and scary designs, its time to enjoy the pumpkins delicious flesh. Pumpkin soup is a favourite of mines, but you may prefer to have roast pumpkin at your next roast dinner or be adventurous and try a very traditional American pumpkin pie. Whatever you decide to do, remember to keep some pumpkin aside to try spiced pumpkin latte’s with.
Creamy pumpkin soup (a twist on carrot and coriander)
1/3 of medium sized pumpkin – cup into pieces and roasted in the oven with some oil until soft (remove skin)
1 tbs Butter
4 carrots, chopped
1.5lts vegetable stock
1 tsp grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp dried oregano
Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped roughly
Salt and pepper to season
1 tbs Sour Cream/ Crème fresh
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Roast the pumpkin in the oven at 180 degrees (fan assisted) for about 25-30 minutes, until soft. In the meantime add the carrots and butter to a large pan and cook for 5-10 minutes until softened over a medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and stir for a further 2 minutes. Now add the stock, herbs and spices and turn the heat up to allow the soup to reach boiling point, stirring regularly. Once it has reached boiling point, turn the heat low and place a lid on it, stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes or until the carrots are very soft.
Now add the pumpkin into the soup and blend well with a stick blender. Taste and season as required, then top with sour cream and some toasted pumpkin seeds, if you have any left, and enjoy.
5) Spiced pumpkin Latte
Last, but not least, a modern latte for the season is spiced pumpkin latte to warm you up on a cold weekend morning and indulge your senses. You can adjust the spices to your preference and play around with different seasonings to find the one you like best, we’ve selected one to start we know you’ll love…
To make pumpkin puree, roast or boil pumpkin pieces until soft and tender, then blend to a smooth pulp and sieve if needed.
Ingredients (per cup)
150 - 200ml milk (any variety)
100ml coffee (2 espresso machine or cafetiere/ instant coffee made double strength)
2 tsp pumpkin puree
1 tsp brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
Small grating of nutmeg
Heat the milk, sugar, pumpkin and spice in a pan over a medium heat (or use a microwave container and heat in the microwave until hot) till the milk is bubbling, not boiling. Add your chosen coffee to your mug and then add the hot milk, stirring as you go. To serve you can choose to add whipped cream and a further sprinkle of nutmeg on top to make it look extra special.