Ideas on how to reduce waste this autumn

how to upcycle your pumpkin

What's the problem?

Autumn is fast becoming the new Christmas: the spiced drinks, the endless snaps of dusky skies, the squeals of excitement at anything pumpkin shaped. To cater for this growing demand, more farms are creating PYO pumpkin experiences. With carving taking precedence over cooking however, the flesh of these veg is ending up wasted; it is estimated that over 14 million pumpkins were thrown away last Halloween. 

how to upcycle a pumpkin

Whilst the pumpkin rush does encourage families to travel to their nearest farm, get their fingernails a little bit dirty and participate in an age-old tradition – perhaps we place too short a window on a pumpkin’s life. In America, pumpkins are picked, prepped and celebrated right up until Thanksgiving (and beyond), whereas in the UK they are ditched as soon as we shut our front doors to the last trick-or-treater.

Perhaps too, in our obsession with the large orange squash – we forget that traditionally, turnips were the original jack-o-lantern. In Irish folklore, a drunk man named Jack was so desperate to stay out of hell, that he formed a bargain with the devil. True to the devil’s word, upon Jack’s death he found himself locked out of hell. However – he had also been barred from heaven. Instead, Jack was condemned to wander in the space between worlds forever, lighting his way only with the flickering cinders sitting snugly inside a turnip. The return to the turnip-carving may be one way to ease a little pressure from the pumpkin.

What can I do?

  1. Regrow: gather, dry and pop the seeds in the fridge until springtime planting
  2. Use the pumpkin flesh for some deliciously cosy baking: breads, cakes, muffins, pies
  3. Turn your pumpkin into a planter – fill your scooped out pumpkin with soil & seeds and place outside
  4. Make pumpkin hummus, lattes, soups & stews. Recipe ideas below:


½ cup pumpkin puree (steamed & whizzed up pumpkin)

4 cups favourite plant milk

Dash of maple syrup

½ teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves (adjust to taste)

Pop all of the ingredients into a blender, or use a stick-blender, to blitz together. Then transfer to a saucepan & heat on a medium heat on the hob.

Serve in your favourite mugs!

(Makes about 2 large helpings)


Pumpkin Soup:

Around 1 kg of pumpkin (deseeded, peeled & chopped)

1tsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 thumb of peeled, diced ginger

2 garlic cloves, chopped

360ml veg stock

1tsp ground cumin

½ tsp all spice

400ml can coconut cream

Whatever herbs you have lying around – e.g. thyme or rosemary

Salt & pepper

Add the onion, garlic, ginger & spices to the pot & fry until soft

Add any herbs you have lying around

Add the coconut cream, veg stock and pumpkin and bring to the boil

Turn the heat down & simmer until the pumpkin is soft (around 10 mins)

Use a stick blender to blitz into soup

Season with salt and pepper

Serve with hot crusty bread

Credit: switched up a bit from the lovingitvegan.com recipe

how to upcycle a pumpkin

Roasted pumpkin hummus:

Roast any leftover pumpkin with olive oil and cloves of garlic – around 30-45 mins 200C/180C fan/Gas 6

Tip into a blender (or again, use stick blender) and whizz together with a can of chickpeas, 2tbsp tahini and a squeeze of lemon

Enjoy with warm toast

5) Toast the seeds! Use as toppers for hot porridge, swirled into smoothies or whizzed into pestos

6) Freeze raw chunks of pumpkin (or steam the chunks & blitz into puree) in freezer bags – ready for future cooking

7) Fill your hollow pumpkin with sunflower seeds and hang from a tree as a lovely bird feeder

8) Did you know that pumpkins are rich in Vitamin C as well as A, E & Bs? Add some maple syrup & oats to your pumpkin puree for a fresh face mask!


how to upcycle a pumpkin

9) See if any local animal shelters would like the pumpkins for some tasty grub

10) Compost or use your food waste bin!

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