If you’re in Scotland (or anywhere?) you may have noticed that Halloween seems to get bigger every year. More costumes appear in the shops, more spooky movies are released, more parties are thrown, and more pumpkins pop up in supermarkets to tempt us into hours of trying to carve the best scary face without slicing off a digit.
There is a slightly more serious side to this ever-evolving fun-filled event though. A recent STV article states research which revealed that less than half of the 1.8 million pumpkins purchased at this time of year are actually eaten. Yikes. Over a million of them go straight in the bin when the festivities are done. That’s real food man! Real good food too!
We didn’t have pumpkins around when I was a kid. We occasionally attempted to carve an even-harder-to-cut turnip after looking enviously at our North American cousins and their carving prowess, which I’m pretty sure did actually slice off digits, and if you were lucky looked a bit like this:
So it’s no surprise that we’re a bit flummoxed as to what to do with them, as an actual food. Yes it’s true, you can make many a meal from a pumpkin. A little goes a long way.
Aside from the obvious issue that we shouldn’t waste so much good food because it’s just wrong, we also know that food waste is a huge contributor to carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere – the culprit of global warming. Scotland’s household waste (including production, transport, packaging, etc.) accounted for 57% of Scotland’s carbon emissions is 2016. So there is a real and direct problem of throwing pumpkins in the bin which isn’t just about that thing in your hands at that moment. You’re also throwing away the energy that went into sowing, growing, harvesting, processing, distributing, displaying and purchasing it. It didn’t grow right there in Tesco. It came a long way, literally and figuratively, to get there.
What’s the answer then? EAT IT! Simples. And luckily the clever world wide web is awash with nifty recipes on what to do with it. Use those Google fingers (if you still have them post-carve) to find something you like the sound of. Here’s the BBC’s list of pumpkin recipes, which is pretty varied and comprehensive. And you’ll find some recipes at the foot of the STV article too. You could even become a real waste warrior and use your pumpkin flesh to make treats for those little costume-clad visitors, instead of buying cheap sugary stuff that adds to the carbon burden whilst rotting their teeth. Ok, maybe I’ve taken my Scrooge-like Halloween spoilsport-ness too far. But if all else fails and you think you just don’t have time to make all these pumpkin recipes before it goes off, turn it into pumpkin puree and freeze it in batches for use at a later date. And if, like me, you actually like the idea of buying a pumpkin just to eat it, one of the easiest ways to work with it is to roast it whole then scoop out all the soft flesh and seeds for soup and all sorts. Cooking times vary widely depending on the size of your squash! So don’t waste these poor pumpkins, and above all, have fun cooking with the kiddies.