Pumpkin waste is the scariest thing about Halloween

There are many ways to cook and enjoy pumpkin this Halloween.

There are many ways to cook and enjoy pumpkin this Halloween. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you’re concerned about food waste - a subject I’ve been writing a lot about recently - the next few days could be a particularly worrying time of year, writes thrifty living columnist Sheena Grant.

Yes, it’s Halloween week, a time when profligate waste seems to have somehow become seemingly etched into our DNA.

Across the country millions of pumpkins have been grown for this annual event. But very few of them will actually be eaten.

According to environmental charity Hubbub, which is running a Food Savvy campaign with councils in Suffolk and Norfolk, 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin ends up in the bin each year - that’s equal to the weight of 1,500 double decker buses.

The worst example of wanton pumpkin waste I’ve ever seen came a few years ago when I took my then seven-year-old son to a Halloween-themed event somewhere in Suffolk. What a mistake. The entry fees were sky-high and the attractions wholly unattractive, particularly the chance to load a pumpkin in a trebuchet-type device and fling it skywards before watching it explode on landing. I don’t know what they did with the ‘waste’. Perhaps they fed it to the farm animals on site but if so, they were keeping quiet about it and anyway, the whole idea and what it represented was so hideous that I decided to leave. Quickly.

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Far more to my liking are some events being run as part of the Food Savvy campaign this half term.

Members of the public are being invited to squash food waste from 10am-4pm outside the Forum in Norwich on Saturday, October 20 with seasonal food savvy tips and in Bury St Edmunds town centre on Wednesday October 24 there will be pumpkin soup and demonstrations on how to make tasty seasonal treats at home.

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There are so many ways to cook the pumpkin scooped out of Halloween lanterns that there really is no excuse for throwing it out. You can make pies, stews, soups or curries but this year, I think I’m going to make something a little different - pumpkin hummus. It’s simplicity itself - cut the pumpkin flesh into chunks, roast with garlic and olive oil and tip into a food processor with the juice of half a lemon, a couple of tablespoons of tahini paste and a 400g can of chickpeas.

Thanks to Bill Woolnough, who got in touch after I wrote about eating broccoli leaves and other ‘waste’ parts of vegetables.

“I hate wasting anything edible and for many years have used the following dodges to not only make full use of vegetables, but to make them more acceptable to those who say that they don’t like ‘cabbage’,” says Bill, who lives in Swanton Morley.

“When buying greens look for those with fresh outer leaves and when selecting broccoli look for the largest stems you can find but with no internal splits or cracks. When preparing broccoli remove the thick outer peel from the stem and chop it into bite-size chunks. These will take about the same time to cook as the florets. .

“The tops and leaves of all brassicas can be made more attractive by slicing thinly across the stem or by discarding the stem, rolling the leaves together and slicing them into strips. The coarser the leaf the thinner I cut them. Now for the magic additions. A rasher of bacon finely cut into strips can either be added or preferably fried in a little butter before cooking with the greens. Also, close attention to seasoning with salt and pepper during cooking is essential.”


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