Halloween is famous for three things: costumes, candy – and PUMPKINS! Even though the pandemic might be cramping your style in the trick-or-treating department, you can still celebrate the spookiest of holidays by decorating with the eponymous jack-o-lantern.
But what happens to your glowy orange pals after the last trick has been treated and the last costume folded up for yet another year?
This blog post will show you some eco-friendly cheat-codes for dealing with pumpkin waste and making your Halloween celebration free of food waste.
1. Eat ‘em!
Instead of throwing away your pumpkin’s natural “purée”, use this naturally delicious ingredient in your favourite fall-friendly recipes!
Pumpkin “leather” (like fruit roll-ups)
2. Make dog treats out of ‘em!
Pumpkin is a healthful dog treat that your pupper will love (well after trick-or-treat season). When baked for long periods of time, at low temperatures, the pumpkin will dehydrate and become leathery and chewy (excellent for the oral health of your pet!)
FYI: You can totally eat the dehydrated pumpkin too – why let Bowzer have all the fun? To make this pumpkin jerky a tasty human treat, follow the pumpkin leather recipe in #1!
3. Compost ‘em!
Do you have a backyard compost pile or compost tumbler? Perfect! Pumpkins are – of course – completely compostable.
To add your leftover pumpkin-pal to the mix, you should cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces to speed up the decomposition process. This will help with aeration as the carbon material combines with the “greens” (organic matter) and will allow more access for your compost’s aerobic bacteria to feast!
4. Craft with ‘em!
Pumpkin stems make great craft materials: save the stems for next year’s festivities and use them to crown fabric pumpkins instead of real ones!
5. Garden with ‘em!
The green-thumb gardener knows that one of the best times to fertilize your garden is in the fall, before the frost sets in (which should be around the same time as Halloween). You can bury your pumpkin in your garden soil to nourish the soil. As it breaks down, your pumpkin will release key nutrients into the soil and feed the earthworms that help turn your soil into black gold.
6. FoodCycle ‘em!
That’s right – you can add your old pumpkins to your FoodCycler and turn them into storable, odorless and nutrient-packed fertilizer to add to your garden either in the fall, or the following spring.
7. Turn ‘em into chicken/bird food!
Chickens LOVE your scraps – and so do the wild birds in your area. Cut your pumpkin into manageable pieces and pierce a hole in each of the pieces. Thread a string through the holes and tie the ends to make a loop.
Then, drizzle some natural birdseed “glue” (see #4 of these instructions) onto the soft-side of the pumpkin pieces and sprinkle bird seed onto the now-sticky lumps. Hang from tree branches or from the fence of your chicken coop to give your little feathered friends a tasty, healthy snack that will help them prepare for winter.
A Note on Terminology
The FoodCycler® is a countertop electric food waste recycler that breaks down food scraps through a mechanical process into a dry, lightweight by-product that can be used in gardening applications as a fertilizer. The FoodCycler® and other electric food waste recyclers are not composters, nor do they produce compost or soil as they do not require additional microbes to break down food waste with bacteria. However, the term "electric composter" has been used to describe electric food waste recyclers.