5 Ideas For Leftover Pumpkins

Sustainability is at the top of many people’s minds nowadays. In fact, a new national survey conducted by PEW Research Center April 20 to 29 among 13,749 U.S. adults, including 912 Gen Z adults stated that 71% of millennials and 67% of Gen Z’s said climate change should be top priority to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations (1). A way that anyone can become more sustainable is by lessening our food waste.
 
While carving pumpkins can be a family-friendly way to have a fun afternoon, you’ve probably felt a little guilty about all of the waste that comes from it. Below we have five ideas on how to conserve waste and use your leftover pumpkin!
 
Make Dog Treats
One way to cut back on waste is to convert your leftover pumpkin scraps into dog treats. Not only do most dogs love the taste of pumpkin, but pumpkin offers some great health benefits, especially helping with digestion (2). However, you should always make sure to check with your vet prior to adding to or changing your dogs diet.  
 
But, before we can get to the dog treat recipe, we first need to make pumpkin puree, which is the main ingredient in this dog treat. First, wash your pumpkin, then preheat your oven to 350°. Next, if you’re not using leftover pumpkin carving scraps, you’ll want to cut the pumpkin into quarters, then cut each of those quarters into smaller pieces. Depending on the amount you want to make, you may want to only start with a quarter of the pumpkin. After cutting it into smaller pieces, scoop out the seeds, then place the pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is tender. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let it cool before removing the skin. After removing the skin, cut the chunks into smaller chunks and toss them in the blender, gradually adding water to the puree until its consistency is like baby food.
 
Now that the pumpkin puree is made, you’re ready to make dog treats! The best dog treat recipes are simple. This recipe recommends you mix 1 cup of the pumpkin puree with ½ cup peanut butter and ¼ cup coconut oil (melted or softened). Then, divide the mixture evenly into an ice tray or mold and let it freeze for 1 to 2 hours.
 
Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Another way to lessen your pumpkin carving waste is by roasting your pumpkin seeds. After scooping out all your seeds from your pumpkin, rinse them off and pat them try. Place the seeds in a bowl and combine them with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, or use your favorite spices, like cinnamon or thyme, to make it your own. After coating the seeds, bake them in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 375°.
 
Cook Dinner
You know the pumpkin puree we made earlier for the dog treats, well it’s time to use it again! Below are some easy recipes from our website that all use pumpkin puree.  
Create a Pumpkin Planter
Another great use of your pumpkin is to use it as a planter. Just cut a large opening in the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the insides, as you normally would. Make sure to remove all seeds or you run the risk of having your very own pumpkin patch in your backyard. After you finish scooping, fill the hollow pumpkin one-third of the way or half-way full of lightweight potting soil. Next, just plant the plants as you normally would, filling in the area around the plants with soil. You can even try to growing your own peanuts in your planter.
 
If you live in an apartment complex or want to try something new this year, this could be a good alternative to the old-fashioned jack-o-lantern. Once the pumpkin begins to die, you can simply plant the pumpkin planter in the ground and let the rotting pumpkin provide natural fertilizer to your plants.
 
House Birds with a Pumpkin Bird House
If you’re looking for a way to attract more wildlife to your backyard, give this idea a shot! First cut a hole that takes up about one-fourth of the pumpkin. Make sure to cut the hole in the side of the pumpkin, since you’ll want to keep the stem attached for this one. If you’re using a leftover jack-o-lantern that’s still in good shape, don’t worry if your stem is no longer attached. We have a way for you to hang your pumpkin too!
 
After cutting a hole in the pumpkin, grab a skewer, chopstick or regular stick that has a pointed end and stick it in the bottom of the pumpkin, so it makes a perch for birds to stand on. The stick should be half in the pumpkin, half out of it so it remains sturdy and won’t break. Next tie a string to the stem and then tie the other end to a tree branch or wherever you want to hang your pumpkin bird house. If you’re using a jack-o-lantern or just don’t have a stem, then make two smaller holes on either side of the pumpkin and slide the string through them to hang it.
 
For pictures of each step of the instructions, click here.
 
References
  1. https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2021/05/26/gen-z-millennials-stand-out-for-climate-change-activism-social-media-engagement-with-issue/
  2. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/six-foods-to-feed-your-dog-when-hes-sick/

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