An Irish myth about a stingy person called Jack who ended up as a wandering soul started the craze of carving vegetables.
At first, demonic faces were carved into turnips to frighten away Jack, but when Irish immigrants moved into the USA they began carving pumpkins, and so jack-o’-lanterns made it to the Halloween scene where they have stayed ever since. Once the ghoulish decorating is over, what happens to the pumpkins? It seems wasteful to throw them out, so here are some ideas on how to use up all that vitamin- and mineral-rich squash flesh.
Roast pumpkin seeds: When carving your pumpkins, you need to clear out the inside, which is usually filled with super healthy and delicious-once toasted seeds. Remove the stringy bits and wash the seeds. Lay them out on a baking sheet to dry. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and salt, and bake in a warm oven (around 150°C) for 45 minutes. Cool and pack into clean jars to use on top of soups, salads, hummus and guacamole.
Feed the birds: A simple way to use up your carved pumpkins is to cut the top off and fill it with bird seed. Hang in a tree or place on a feeding table and let the birds finish it off.
So many ways with pumpkin flesh:
The first thing that comes to mind is making a savoury sweet pumpkin soup flavoured with a hint of curry spice and topped with a sprinkling of biltong. Then there’s pumpkin pie, pumpkin purée, pumpkin casserole and vegetable curry, just to start. This time we are turning our carved pumpkins into pumpkin bread. Enjoy!
This savoury pumpkin bread is best fresh from the oven with lashings of butter. This is more savoury and like a bread than some other recipes that are sweeter and more like a cake. Either way, pumpkin bread uses up the pumpkin and can be sliced, frozen and brought out to toast any time.
- 500g white bread flour
- 2 tablespoons instant dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 450g pumpkin flesh, cut into cubes
- Warm water, if needed
- Olive oil to glaze
- Pumpkin seeds
Place the pumpkin in a steamer and cook until the flesh is soft. Add this to a mixer with a dough hook and start mixing while adding the flour, yeast, salt, paprika and cinnamon. Add a bit of warm water if the dough needs help coming together. Knead for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can mash the pumpkin by hand with a potato masher and mix in the ingredients by hand. Cover and leave to rise for an hour. Heat the oven to 200°C. Punch down and form into a loaf shape on a baking tray. Cover and rest for a further 30 minutes. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until it sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack or eat hot.