Hey, Pumpkin Service Announcement (PSA):
Did you know that you can cook your Jack-o-Lantern?
It's true! Your halloween pumpkin is food!
Here's a totally bonkers stat: each year approximately 18,000 tons of pumpkins get tossed out after halloween. If they're not properly composted, those pumpkins end up in landfills where they decay and release methane gas.
One of the most certain ways to help combat climate change is by reducing food waste, so how about cooking your halloween pumpkin instead of throwing it out?
Can you cook halloween pumpkins?
You sure can! Halloween pumpkins are just really big squash. While they may not be as sweet as a muscat or sugar pumpkin, they're perfectly edible and I cook mine every year and use it to make homemade pumpkin purée, which I use in all kinds of recipes.
I lean towards using my cooked jack-o-lanterns in recipes like Pumpkin Millet Muffins or Pumpkin Snickerdoodles which have sugar and spices to help out with the flavour of the pumpkin. Having said that, some savoury recipes, like Baked Pumpkin Risotto also will give your jack-o-lantern a respectable second life.
Is it safe to eat a pumpkin that's already been carved?
Maybe. It depends on how long ago it was carved.
My food safety protocol is to only cook jack-o-lanterns that have been carved within the last 24 hours and kept outside in the cold.
If it's been sitting on your porch for a few days you should not cook it. If it's soft or slimy or mouldy in any places, you should not cook it.
Because I like to cook my jack-o-lanterns, what I usually do is carve them on October 31st and then cook them in the morning of November 1st. Alternatively, I'll let my kids draw on the ones I'm going to cook instead of carving them.
If you have any doubts about whether your pumpkin is safe to cook or not, err on the side of caution and compost it instead.
How do you cook a jack-o-lantern?
The exact same way you'd cook any other pumpkin! My preference is to roast it, then purée the flesh and freeze it in one-cup portions if I'm not using it right away.
For step by step instructions on how to cook a pumpkin jump over here --> How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Purée.
Originally posted November 1, 2012. Updated and edited October 30, 2019.
I love to cut it up and use it in a Moroccan-inspired stew, roast it with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, onions, and peppers; or cut it into french fry shapes, batter or dust in flour, and pan fry or bake
Yes, I'm obsessed with pumpkins. Not apologizing 😉
Karen @ Lavender and Lovage
What a great way to savour that pumpkin after it has lighted the way to the trick or treat door! Lovely idea! Karen
Yep, it's perfect. I try to 'rescue' as many pumpkins as I can each year.
Frustrated with online search on how to oven roast a large Halloween pumpkin (still whole with no carving). Either info said yes you can roast them but not the temperature & how long or click on that baking info to switch regarding instructions particular cooking instructions for a smaller sugar or pie pumpkins.
I need instructions on how (temperature & how long) to oven roast large (25-40 lbs.) pumpkin. Next to impossible to find.
Sorry the internet is letting you down. Here's the instructions I use for roasting my halloween pumpkins --> https://www.heynutritionlady.com/how-to-process-a-pumpkin-again/
Exact times are hard to say as every pumpkin is different as is every oven. But the temperature is there, and I always roast until my pumpkin has collapsed and the skin has blistered. You gotta keep an eye on it.
my pumpkin never did make it into a jack-o-lantern as planned! So i cooked it up today 🙂
Awesome! I'm totally eyeing up pumpkins as I wander around town, wondering if I can get away with 'rescuing' them.
Too cute. I love what you said about dark chocolate - that would've been me (but less subtle). I am afraid I am a pumpkin naysayer, but like you I don't like to waste so I thai curried the heck out the my leftovers!
It's definitely not as flavourful as a sugar pumpkin, but still works beautifully in baked things. Give it a second chance!
Good on you for taking ten kids trick or treating in a place that doesn't really know what to do with this holiday! I completely agree, I cannot allow *food* to go to waste, so when we get a pumpkin I'll definitely remember to carve it the night before and then process it the next day. My little peanut is a little too little, so maybe next year, for us ... though I did hugely overestimate the number of kids that would come to our place and so have tons of chocolate (wrapped) candies leftover. Good thing it doesn't really tempt me.
And-- you have a pumpkin snickerdoodle recipe?!? Don't mind if I do!
Better to have too much candy for the trick or treaters than to little, I say! And yes! Pumpkin snickerdoodles are awesome!