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Recycle Your Pumpkins
by Timothy Johnson
     After Halloween, what’s next for your pumpkins? 
     Please, not the landfill. Pumpkins are 90 percent water and add tons of water to the landfills, contributing to the problem of groundwater contamination. As pumpkins break down, they create methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2).
     There are better alternatives.
 
1. Compost the pumpkins
Pumpkins are filled with nutrients. The water that is harmful to the landfill is beneficial to your compost pile. Clean out the seeds so you don’t have unwanted pumpkins growing in the pile. Chop up the rind to speed decomposition and bury it under dried leaves or sawdust to keep away hungry critters.
 
2. Feed furry visitors
Leave the jack-o-lantern out, as is, for deer, rabbits, squirrels, woodchucks to snack on, or cut it up into pieces and scatter them about.
 
3. Feed the birds
Slice the pumpkin in half horizontally, clean out the inside, fill it with birdseed and hang it from a tree branch or railing. Cut out a large oval opening at the front so the birds will have a soft, cozy place to land in and have a snack.
 
4. Eat the seeds
Pumpkin seeds are bursting with vitamins and nutrients. Don’t throw them away. Roast the seeds by first using a paper towel to blot away any pulp, then spread the seeds out on a paper bag to dry overnight. Next day, toss the seeds with a spray of oil and season as you like, sweet or salty (crab seasoning is good). Spread the seeds on a cookie sheet, and roast in a medium oven for no longer than 20 minutes. Bag the roasted seeds to have ready-to-go snacks, or use them in salads or soups.
 
5. Eat the pumpkin
Cut a pumpkin into a bowl for soup or stew; don’t cut the sides too low. Use raw oil and sugar on the inside and bake until very slightly soft. Make a homemade puree of steamed or baked pumpkin meat to use for pies, breads and cakes, soups, shakes, lattes, ice cream.
 
6. Eat the skin
You may have to watch that your Thanksgiving guests don’t fill up on your homemade Pumpkin Skin Chips before dinner. Like the seeds, the skin is full of vitamins and nutrients and has rich, savory flavor. Carefully cut off the skin in long slices, as thin as you can get them. Put the strips of skins into a large bowl, sprinkle generously with kosher salt and toss well. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add a very small amount of extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil and toss well. Bake 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees. Sprinkle the pieces of skin with paprika and sea salt and crisp in a dehydrator for additional flavor. Serves well by itself or with a dip.
 
7. Refresh your skin
All those vitamins and nutrients can also be used to revitalize your skin. Cut up the rind, steam it until tender and puree it in a food processor or with a hand-held mixer. To make a face mask, mix about one-fourth of a cup of the puree with one egg and add an ingredient for your skin type, e.g., honey for dry skin, apple cider for oily skin. Apply the mask to your face, let sit for 15 minutes, rinse off with warm water.
–reprinted from E The Environmental Magazine