Sustainable America Blog

Skin to Seed: How to Eat an Entire Pumpkin

three pumpkins

Photo: poppet with a camera via Flickr

Pumpkins. The plump, orange orbs are everywhere this time of year. While you’re picking out a few for Halloween decorations, it’s worth it to set aside a few for eating too. We’ve rounded up some recipes that will help you make use of everything but the stem, and we’ve found some ideas for what to do with the ones that get carved as well.

Pumpkin Seeds
Whether you’re carving or eating, you first have to deal with the pumpkin seeds. Simply roasted and salted, the seeds were a special treat when I was a kid, but now the Internet is full of more interesting recipes to spice up this fall favorite.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

First scoop the seeds out of the cavity, rinse some of the pulp off, and spread them on a towel to dry. (If you have a garden, you can save some of the bigger seeds to grow next year.)

Here are a few recipes to try. You can use these recipes for seeds from other types of squash as well.

Basic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (shown above)
Chocolate-Covered Pumpkin Seeds
Cinnamon Maple Pumpkin Seeds
Sweet and Salty
Curried Pumpkin Seeds
Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Salted Caramel Pumpkin Seeds

Once roasted, you can also add pumpkin seeds to granola or use them in a snack mix with dried fruit, nuts and chocolate candy.

pumpkin pies

Pumpkin Flesh
It’s not just for pumpkin pie anymore. Roasted, cubed or pureed, pumpkin is a quintessential autumn ingredient. Once you puree the pumpkin flesh, you can use it as a substitute for canned pumpkin in endless recipes, from sweet — like pumpkin bread, cookies, pancakes and cakes — to savory — think soup, lasagna, hummus, even burgers. If you don’t use all your puree, make sure to freeze the leftovers. Frozen, it will keep for six months. (Pie photo: CutiePiesNYC via Flickr)

pumpkin crisps Pumpkin Skin
After you’ve peeled the skin from your roasted pumpkin, don’t toss it. It can be dehydrated into a crispy, nutritious snack. Here are some ideas:

Pumpkin Crisps

Pumpkin Chips (shown at right)

South Indian-Style Roasted Pumpkin Skins

If you happen to grow your own pumpkins, you can also eat the blossoms using any squash blossom recipe, like this one for Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms.

Squirrel in a pumpkin

What to Do With Carved Pumpkins
It should go without saying that it’s not a good idea to eat a pumpkin that’s been carved and sitting around for several days. When your Jack o’ lanterns start to shrivel, you can compost them, or just bury them in the yard. If you plan to do more planting this season, you can start a shrub, tree, perennials or bulbs in it, then plant the whole thing in the ground. Or, fill it with seeds and use it as a bird and wildlife feeder — birds will eat the seeds and critters will eat the flesh. (Photo: Bob Mical via Flickr)

For more ideas for reducing food waste, visit

Take Our Challenge: Reduce Waste, Save Money
10 Ways to Use Extra Garden Vegetables
Cooking for One With Zero Waste

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.

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