What to do with your pumpkins after Halloween? Don't rush to open the trash bin. Your Jack O'Lantern can come in handy even after the 31st.
The night of ghosts, monsters, and sweets is over, but the pumpkins are still there. And their empty carved eyes follow every step as you shamble off to the kitchen to make something remotely resembling a breakfast. Spooky.
We wrapped our heads around the pumpkin problem and piled up a solid list of ideas. You've got more than one choice.
Ways to Reuse or Recycle Your Pumpkins After Halloween
You probably have at least one pumpkin smiling at you in an eerie manner. You may not make a yummy pumpkin pie out of it (especially if it is freezing outside), but there are other unobvious ways to recycle it.
Make a Pumpkin Bird Feeder
The cutest thing to do with Jack O’Lantern decorations is to help your local birdies get through the winter.
Cut your pumpkin in half, leave the bottom half, and scoop out the seeds. Then, use a knife to make holes in the sides of the pumpkin. Put twigs or chopsticks inside to make perches for the birds. Measure out a twine, tie the ropes to the perches, and find a solid branch to hang up your feeder. Fill the feeder with bird seeds, and you’re done!
Feed the Animals
Here’s a simple way to feed the wildlife in your area. Chop the pumpkin leftovers into small pieces and leave them in the dishes for local squirrels or deer.
Alternatively, donate your pumpkin to a local zoo or animal sanctuary. Just make sure you’ve got rid of all traces of candle wax before feeding animals. Also, don’t feed anyone with a painted pumpkin, please.
Throw it Into Compost
Pumpkins are great for compost and are super nutritious for your soil. Wipe off wax and paint before adding the pumpkin to your compost heap. If you chop or crush the pumpkin, it will decompose quicker.
If you’re a bit lazy, just throw it away in your garden and cover it with leaves. Nature will do the work.
Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Roast the pumpkin seeds to make a delicious snack. Just rinse off the pulps, dry them out with a towel, and bake for 10-15 minutes on a tray with a bit of oil at 170°C (338°F). Top your morning oatmeal with a handful of seeds, or just take them as an on-the-go snack. Pumpkin seeds are extra healthy and nutritious and cover your needs in protein, fat, antioxidants, and minerals. Just an ounce (28 grams) of the seeds covers 42% of an adult’s daily needs in manganese!
Plant the Seeds
If roasted seeds aren’t to your taste, but you’d like to try growing your own pumpkins next year, preserve the seeds! Scoop them out, rinse them off, and let them dry on a paper towel. Leave them in a cool and dry place for 3-4 weeks to ensure they’re fully dry. Put the seeds in a paper envelope, and keep them until next June.
Make a Planter
If your pumpkin is intact, you can use the insides to make fantastic food (more on this below). But it also makes a great temporary planter!
This works well for the greenies you want to plant outdoors. Just slice the top of the pumpkin, scoop out the insides, and fill ⅓ of it with potting soil. Put your plant inside and cover the roots with more soil.
When the pumpkin starts to rot, dig up a hole in a garden and place your pumpkin pot inside. It will decompose and turn into a fertilizer for the plant!
Make Fantastic Foods
Pumpkins are delicious when properly cooked. You can use the insides of your pumpkin before carving and painting it. But if Halloween is over, and you’ve got a pumpkin that wasn’t carved or painted, make yourself some treats!
There are tons of pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, or pumpkin bread recipes out there. If you’re not into cooking right now, simply make a pumpkin puree, divide it into portions, and freeze it. It can stay frozen for around a year!
Give it Away
If your pumpkin is fresh and undamaged, but you don’t feel like doing anything with it, someone else might! Donate the pumpkin to your local food pantry or food cupboard. Or give it away on a community gifting or swap group. There surely is someone who would make use of your Jack O’Lantern.
Host a Pumpkin Smash Event
This one takes some extra work, but you’ll make a big impact. Look whether your local farm or community location is organizing a pumpkin smash event. Many farms use pumpkins for feed and compost. Reach out to the farm and offer to organize a pumpkin smash event on their premises.
The farm may charge a small fee, but if you have a source of shared revenue on the event (like a food truck), this would be a win-win event for everyone, including the environment.
How Long Does a Pumpkin Last After You Carve It?
The average pumpkin lasts 3 to 7 days after carving. If you live in a cold climate and your pumpkin stays outside, it can show no signs of decay for longer.
How to Preserve Your Carved Pumpkins?
You can give your pumpkins a bleach bath after carving. After that (but not before, you’ll trap the moisture inside!), spray the pumpkin with Vaseline, vegetable oil, or WD-40. Remember that you shouldn’t put a candle inside, as these are inflammable. Peppermint oil or soap are natural alternatives. Keep in mind that your recycling options narrow down if you use chemicals.
How to Preserve Your Uncarved Pumpkins This Halloween?
Bleach, vaseline, vegetable oil, or WD-40 – the same options as with carved pumpkins work. Keep in mind that uncarved pumpkins last much longer than carved ones, so you don’t really need to apply anything. Plus, you’ll be able to reuse it for food if you leave it as it is.
What to Do with Pumpkins After Halloween for Animals?
If your pumpkin wasn’t staying outside, wasn’t painted, or was covered with chemicals, you can feed your pets or local wildlife. You can also create a bird feeder or donate your pumpkin to a farm or animal sanctuary in your local area.