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What To Do With Leftover Pumpkins

Pumpkins and Autumn Leaves with Horseshoe Tray

If you are anything like us, you will be looking forward to spending Halloween with your family, and carving pumpkins into all sorts of funny faces, and for the more creative people amongst us, maybe a skyline or an animal or any of the other endless possibilities.

Have you ever wondered how pumpkins become synonymous with Halloween?

Folklore tells the story of Stingy Jack, a lazy blacksmith who invited the devil to join him for a drink but, not wanting to pay for the drink, convinced him to turn himself into a coin.

Instead of using the coin to pay for his beverage, the story goes that Jack, kept the coin in his wallet next to a cross, stripping Satan of all his powers.

He eventually set him free on the condition that he wouldn’t take Jack into Hell.

When Jack died, he wasn’t allowed into heaven due to his bad deeds on Earth and was banned from Hell because of the deal he had made.

According to the legend, the devil tossed him an ember from Hades that would never go out.

He placed this in a hollowed-out turnip and aimlessly wandered the Earth in search of a resting place.

The story travelled with the Irish over to the States and evolved till these “Jack-o-lanterns” were being made from pumpkins.

In the UK we buy millions of pumpkins for carving and unfortunately most of these will be discarded afterwards.  It seems such a shame when there are so many ways to use the pumpkin and the carved-out flesh.

Cook with the flesh that you carve out

As you carve out your pumpkin you will be left with flesh that can used to cook with.  There are plenty of ways to cook with it, from soup to pumpkin pie, to cake.

On the BBC good food website you will find a whole host of recipes recipes to get you started,


Use the seeds for eating

 Pumpkin seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals, and are a great source fibre and can be used in delicious autumnal snacks, salads and bakes.

Once you have a hole cut in the top of your pumpkin, scoop the seeds into a bowl. When you all the seeds have been scooped out, fill the bowl with water and use your hands to separate the seeds from the stringy flesh. Place the seeds in a colander and rinse them in water, using your hands as needed to remove any additional stringy flesh, until they are cleaned and set them aside to dry.  The dried seeds can be roasted, and the BBC Good Food website shows you how

Use the seeds for planting

Treat the seeds the same way you did to prepare them for eating except don’t cook them. Once the seeds have been washed, lay them on a towel to dry.   Pick out the largest blemish-free seeds and let the seeds air-dry completely and then store them in a brown paper bag.  Let the seeds fully dry, this will take at least a month.  Store them in a dark, cool place to be planted in the spring.

Compost it

Pumpkin is such a great addition to your compost pile.

If you don’t want to compost but want to use in the garden, dig a hole, toss them in, and let nature take over.  When it comes time to till the soil in the spring, you won’t find many jack-o’-lantern leftovers.

Feed it to your livestock or chickens

Chickens Eat Leftover Pumpkin

Livestock and chickens love to eat pumpkins and the seeds. 

Did you know that pumpkins can be used as a natural dewormer?  The pumpkin seeds are coated with a substance called cucurbitacin that paralyzes the worms.

Make a pumpkin bird feeder

Make A Bird Feeder Out Of A Leftover Pumpkin


Fill your pumpkin with a layer of bird feed and put it in the garden, either on a table or hang it up and you will be able to watch the birds come and go. 

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