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How to Use the Whole Pumpkin at Halloween

Updated on April 17, 2013
Imogen French profile image

Imogen is from West Dorset, in the UK. She works in publishing and writes mainly about the environment, gardening, and vegetarian food.

A large pumpkin
A large pumpkin | Source
Black cat, broomstick and pumpkin, all ready for Halloween!
Black cat, broomstick and pumpkin, all ready for Halloween! | Source

Pumpkins are a fantastic food - versatile, tasty, nutritious and filling. I am amazed by the number of people who buy pumpkins for decoration only and throw away the contents because they either don't know what to do with it or think they don't like pumpkin to eat. Here are some ideas of how to make the most of the whole vegetable.

If hollowing out to make a jack-o-lantern, choose a flat bottomed pumpkin and slice off the lid, then you can first scoop out the seeds and put these to one side, then take out as much flesh as you can and store separately before carving.


The seeds are probably the most nutritious part of the pumpkin, very high in zinc, magnesium, omega 3 oils, and many other beneficial minerals. They are thought to be good for prostate problems, arthritis and prevention of brittle bones, amongst other things.

How to use: Once removed from the pumpkin they need to be cleaned. The best way to do this is to wash in a seive to remove any fleshy bits, shake off any excess moisture then lay out to dry off on a kitchen towel. They are great sprinkled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes, and can be eaten on their own as a snack or added to salads, breads, muesli, flapjacks, as part of a crumble topping - the culinary possibilities are numerous! If you don't want to eat them all you could save some for growing next year's pumpkins, or use them in crafts - threaded up to make necklaces, or used in collages.

Once dried the seeds can be stored, raw or roasted, in an airtight container for a few months. Make sure raw seeds are completely dry, but not shrivelled up, before storing.


When scooping out a pumpkin it is quite difficult to get any large peices out, you tend to get thin slithers rather than chunks. For this reason the flesh is probably best used as a puree. To make a puree, bake in the oven with a little water in a large flat dish until the flesh is soft right through, and then put through the blender and either use immediately in your recipe or freeze in suitable sized portions for later use.

The best uses for pumpkin puree are pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin soup.

If you do manage to get any large chunks out these can be used for roasting, adding to casseroles, or can be frozen whole for later use.

Recipes for all are readily available on the net, so I will not duplicate them here.


So now you are just left with your shell, hollowed out and ready to carve - you could just cut out a simple "evil face" and put a candle in, or create an artistic masterpiece. Pumpkin carving has become quite an art form and there are many ideas to be found on the internet. Below are a few ideas that I found to inspire you.

What's left?

There are a few bits and pieces that will not get used - the pulpy flesh around the seed for instance, and the shell (once Halloween is over), but these can both be put in your compost to make some new soil for your garden. Animals such as pigs will also appreciate the leftovers.

And there you have it, the whole pumpkin put to good use!


P.S. A note of caution: Never leave burning candles unattended, especially with the lid on the pumpkin, as this will eventually dry out and can catch on fire. Battery operated "candles" are a much safer option if you have them, and there are some quite realistic looking ones available on the market.


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    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 2 years ago from Southwest England

      Hub update, and a late reply to VirginiaLynne - indeed, a thing I forgot to mention was to save a few seeds for next year's crop - pumpkins grow readily both here in England and in the US. I haven't grown regular pumpkins this year, but have an interesting array of squashes, that may get the halloween treatment instead! Somebody reminded me that in Britain/Ireland people used to carve turnips - which were more readily available here - instead of pumpkins, but you don't see that so much these days. Happy Halloween everybody!

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I think pumpkins are one of the joys that last from summer through fall. They are fun to grow, and the children love them at Halloween. They are great in soup, or as found in many holiday pies. A great hub!

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 6 years ago from United States

      Great ideas for using the pumpkin. I'd add the fact that you can throw anything left on your compost pile. In fact, that often gives us a few new seedlings for next year! We love pumpkins seeds, but I'd never thought to eat them in things. I'll have to try that. I just read "Little House on the Prarie--The Long Cold Winter" to my 3 girls tonight. The mother in the story takes strips of green pumpkin and makes a pie with spices and brown sugar. In the story it tastes like apple!

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 6 years ago from Southwest England

      that sounds delicious anginwu, thanks for your comment :)

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Use for every part of the pumpkin--that's very cool and green-friendly. My mother used to sautee the flesh of the pumpkin with Asian seasoning. Yum.

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 6 years ago from Southwest England

      Glad you all enjoyed it, and glad to see a few more pumpkin enthusiasts out there :0)

      I can't bear to think of all that useful and tasty food going to waste. I may experiment with a few new recipes this year and write a hub about the best. Watch this space...

    • profile image

      A.CreativeThinker 6 years ago

      This is a very informative and great hub, on the uses for this nutritious and tasty vegetable. There are so many dishes you can make with pumpkins, their seeds and their flowers. Thanks for sharing. :)



    • lcbenefield profile image

      lcbenefield 6 years ago from Georgia

      I don't understand how some people can buy a pumpkin just for decoration. Growing up, Mom, used to cook the pumpkin and make the best pumpkin muffins I have ever had. Her pumpkin pies were amazing. She would even roast the pumpkin seeds with different spices. Mom showed us how to make use of the pumpkin in its entirety. Great hub!

    • profile image

      Cousin Fudd 6 years ago

      Great hub. Pumpkins are somewhat scarce in our area this year but my wife is a imaginative decorator and uses the whole pumpkin. Love those jack o lanterns.