Pumpkin’s not just for making lanterns - it can be eaten too
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
It's almost Halloween and if there's one thing that's scarier than the annual festival devoted to ghouls, ghosts and garish costumes its the food waste that goes with it, writes Sheena Grant.
For the last few weeks, supermarkets have been stocking up on pumpkins to carve into lanterns.
I can be quite specific about what these pumpkins will be used for as it's absolutely true to say the vast majority will never be served up as food. In fact, I wonder how many children know that pumpkins are edible. Sounds like the sort of thing someone ought to do a survey on...
Food waste campaign Pumpkin Rescue reckons only a third of us choose to cook and eat the flesh we scoop out from our squash when making a Halloween lantern, meaning that 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin ends up in the bin each year. It's urging people to hold a 'pumpkin rescue' event, such as a family lunch or 'carve and eat' class.
More awareness is desperately needed. The pumpkin craze is recent but firmly embedded, having crossed from America, where, unlike here, the pumpkin does get eaten too.
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A few years ago I attended a half-term Halloween event with my son at a farm in Suffolk, where children could load a pumpkin into a trebuchet-type device and see how far they could fling it. By the end of the day, the adjoining field was littered with hundreds of smashed and rotting pumpkins. It was a sickening sight.
I suspect part of the problem is that many of us, unlike our American cousins, just don't know how to cook pumpkin as it's not a vegetable we have a great tradition of eating. But it is very versatile and can be roasted, used in curries, pies, and desserts. Reader Lotte Sherman suggests making it into a delicious soup, which can be 'spiced up', if desired. It also freezes well for future use, she says.
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You can use the seeds you scoop out too. Soak them in salted water for a couple of hours to get all the flesh off, then dry out or roast before storing in an airtight container. Fresh pumpkin will keep in the fridge for three days, or frozen lasts up to eight months.
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