Recycle Your Jack-O-Lantern

or BAKE A PUMPKIN, PLEASE.

I love seeing Halloween and Fall decor – – and especially PUMPKINS!  Pumpkins out in fields, on doorsteps, part of table-scapes, etc.  But I do have to say that I am always really sad about the sheer WASTE that surrounds Halloween – and especially the wasted pumpkins!

Even if we don’t address the food waste issue happening – – can we at least discuss the tragedy of missing out on SOOOO many delicious pumpkin dishes???  All those potential meals and treats. Sitting in the rubbish pile. And smelling the exact opposite of what they should…
I mean, really.  You may love to LOOK at pumpkins – – but do you truly love seeing them more than eating them?  #IDidntThinkSo  #savethepumpkins !

So – if you haven’t thought of it yet – I have a solution!  You can totally recycle your Halloween Jack-O-Lantern!   And if this solution doesn’t work for you, I am also going to share just how EASY it is to bake a freshly purchased pumpkin and make your very own FRESH and DELICIOUS pumpkin puree – – way, way better than the canned puree.  Just skip the carving steps. Because pumpkins are for more then decorations.

FIRST:
– Even if just for carving a Jack-O-Lantern, try to purchase organic!  Your hands are going to be all over the inside and outside of that gourd…  There are some awesome prices showing up throughout the Fall.  Although, I do get frustrated that the fresh pumpkins seem to disappear right after Halloween!  What about PUMPKIN PIE?

                                 Organic Pumpkin Sale

By the way – I’ve baked multiple varieties of pumpkins, and they have all been delicious.  Sugar Pumpkins are not the only option!

SECOND:
– Clean out the pumpkin guts, but don’t toss the seeds!  Freshly roasted pumpkin seeds are an amazing treat!  And pumpkin seeds have tons of nutritional goodness – – just do a quick Google search.  **Kid hands are the best seed separators.

Cleaning out pumpkin guts   Pulling out pumpkin seeds for roasting   Separating the Pumpkin Seeds for Roasting

Toss the seeds in olive oil and sea salt.  Then bake on a cookie sheet at 300F for around 45 minutes.  {If you forget about them – they burn.  Trust me, I know…}

THIRD:
– Carve your Jack-O-Lantern, scraping the inside walls well.

Kid Designed Jack-O-Lantern

STORE YOUR JACK-O-LANTERN IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR WHEN YOU ARE NOT ENJOYING IT.  ** This is the key to recycling your Jack-O-Lantern!  It will probably be okay if out for only a day or so.  But more than a day, and you will need to keep it in the refrigerator when you are not home or when sleeping.  Also try spraying the inside and outside with a mix of water and essential oils [I suggest a Protective Blend that deters mold].

**If your Jack-O-Lantern is not bake-able  – – you can also recycle it by adding it to your compost pile!  {blog post on easy composting coming soon!}

FOURTH:
– After Halloween, say your fond farewells, wash the pumpkin thoroughly (add essential oils again for extra cleansing if desired), and chop your gourd into large chunks.  Place the chunks face down {sorry! mine are pictured face up!} in a baking pan (I prefer glass), and add about 1/2 – 3/4 inch of water.  Cover the pan with tinfoil and bake at 350F until the pumpkin is fork tender (start with about 40 minutes).

How to bake a pumpkin      Fresh baked pumpkin      How to bake a pumpkin

FIFTH:
– Allow the tender pumpkin to cool. When you are able to touch the chunks, begin scooping the flesh away from the rind.  Puree about two cups of pumpkin at a time in your blender or food processor, adding water as needed.  Your puree should still form peaks.

Pumpkin ready to puree       Fresh pumpkin puree       Make your own fresh pumpkin

Fill freezer safe ziplock bags or glass jars [plastic free!] with 2 cup portions of the puree and freeze.  Be sure the bags are dry and laid flat to freeze.  You can adjust your freezer arrangement once the puree is solid.  A decent-sized pumpkin can make over a dozen cups of puree! Scientific – I know…

Frozen fresh pumpkin

SIXTH:
– Enjoy all the pumpkin recipes ALL YEAR LONG!  I promise that your fresh, home-pureed, pumpkin will taste way better than over-priced, canned pumpkin.  Try it at least once.  I suspect you will never go back…

TIPS:
* Don’t wait too long to bake your pumpkins! Prices have been so great the last few years, that I’ve grabbed two big ones – and then lost one. 😦  It is not that big of a task.  And you can actually refrigerate your baked chunks and puree them the following day.
* Try a new variety!  Last years Porcelain Pumpkins – all I could find on November 1 –  were delicious! {I dug out my last frozen portion today. Hello pumpkin muffins & pumpkin soup!}
* I’ll be posting some of my favorite pumpkin recipes this week!  Make sure you’ve subscribed to my Facebook posts so you don’t miss them.

How to save fresh pumpkin

What other waste or tragedy-reducing solutions have you come up with for Halloween?

Oh – and if you have an amazing pumpkin recipe, can you please tag me?  I have two GIANT pumpkins waiting for the oven!  {If you live near me, I may be storing pumpkin in your freezer…}

#liveuluwehi

::RESOURCE DUMP::
Healthy Halloween Links & Tips

* Safe-for-your-skin paint  [affiliate]
* Enjoying Halloween without total candy focus
* 20 ways to do Halloween without candy!
* Real Food  – fun & yummy kind of scary – Halloween snacks
* Pumpkins aren’t the only Jack-O-Lanterns
* How to have a Green Halloween
* DIY Halloween Decorations
* Candy alternative treats 

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