I read with some horror in this week’s Independent that in the UK we will throw away 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin flesh this week ( while carving out Jack O Lanterns. I eyed the one sitting on the kitchen table with suspicion and dread and the stirring feeling of a mission bubbling away in my little brain…

So this morning, after the obligatory pumpkin-scooping-out session, I set about putting the extremely large bowl of pumpkin flesh to work. I have a few ideas for it over the coming days, so first, I’ve knocked it into a large amount of pumpkin puree, to keep in the fridge and freezer, and will blog the recipes as I go along over the next few days. Ideas so far include a Kerala pumpkin curry, a spiced pumpkin and lentil soup, and a sweet pumpkin and almond pasta sauce, not to mention this week’s Guardian recipe, my pumpkin and sultana scones:” title …and possibly some teeny tiny jam-tart-sized sweet pumpkin tarts, too…

So, until I’ve had a proper creative flail, and in the spirit of saving some of those tonnes of pumpkin flesh from being consigned to the bin, here’s a quick ‘how to make pumpkin puree’ – and fling it in the fridge or freezer, and I’ll throw some recipes at you in due course. Or if you don’t want to wait for me, the the BBC Good Food and Guardian websites have some great recipes right here:


So easy it’s hardly a recipe at all! Separate the pumpkin flesh from the seeds, and pop the seeds to one side. (I’m washing mine and donating them to the kids art box for them to paint and stick onto things, firstly because we are awash with regular pumpkin seeds in this house, and secondly because they are monstrously huge so I’m not sure what I’d use them in…)

Put the scooped out flesh into a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer on a medium heat for 20 minutes or until the flesh is all translucent and tender. Drain and mash with a masher or blend in a blender, and allow to cool. Transfer into jars, freezer bags, plastic containers or ice cube trays, or a mixture of whatever you have, and pop into the fridge (for 3 days) or freezer (for 6 months).

Happy Halloween, and please, save our pumpkins.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Photograph by Allegra McEvedy

Photograph by Allegra McEvedy

Categories: Blog, Recipes & Food

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  1. I love this! I was starting to feel very guilty about wasting the innards of our pumpkin because I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but this has solved my problem completely – thanks Jack!

  2. I made soup with ours. I simmered the pumpkin flesh with chicken stock for 10 mins, then added a tin of tomatoes and whizzed the whole thing with a stick blender. In a seperate pan I put diced chorizo, chopped onion, garlic and a red pepper and softened it gently in just the fat from the chorizo. When it was all softened, I added 1/2 a teaspoon of smoked paprika and mixed it with a drained tin of mixed pulses and the pureed pumpkin and tomato. It was delicious.

  3. Thank you. My partner kindly bought four pumpkins for me to turn into lanterns. Four!!! We have a LOT of pumpkin soup and have been giving it to the neighbours. Going to experiment with pumpkin curry next. She thought I’d just throw it away!!! This would have added at least another 3 tonnes to your stat (which is disgraceful and we should be ashamed).

  4. I too cannot bear to see the huge amount of pumpkin wasted at this time of the year. I have made several large batches of pumpkin purée for cakes and the freezer however I cooked it in the microwave without any addition of water. I cut it into chunks, microwaved in batches for up to 5 minutes and then mashed it. After washing and drying the seeds I coated them in olive oil, salted them and popped in the oven for 10 minutes – delicious!

  5. If you carve the pumpkin the day you display it and use a candle holder inside with the lid off you can cook the whole pumpkin the next day and have puree for the year. I have done this since my two grown daughters were small and money was VERY tight. I cook my pumpkin in either the micro or the oven but a pressure cooker also works.

  6. We’ll be having pumpkin pie 😊
    When I was wee it was always a carved neap (turnip) with the insides being used for soup. Not sure if anybody still carves neaps, I think pumpkins have taken over.

    • My parents did the same for me and my brother when we were little – this was in the north of England and when I went to university my friends were completely baffled by this as they had always had pumpkins! I actually tried to carve a turnip myself, but soon realised why pumpkins had taken over – turnips are INCREDIBLY difficult to carve!

    • Turnips for me too Sian. Pumpkins are just another example of the Americans taking over the world, as with trick or treat and the current definition of a muffin. Notice we now call ours English muffins and the American version has become the norm.

  7. It never occurred to me to throw away the insides! In fact at this time of year I stock up on pumpkins as given the right conditions they will store for a while………..and you cant get them in ordinary supermarkets at any time other than the couple of weeks in the run up to 31st October. A pumpkin is for Autumn not just halloween!;)

  8. I pre-weigh the pumpkin puree before bagging and freezing it so that it’s just the right amount for a batch of spicy pumpkin muffins, or pumpkin loaf cake. Good to have at Christmad for those that don’t like fruit cake or mince pies 🙂

  9. We used to carve swedes (cattle feed) when we were little (Yorkshire). Got them from the local farmer for free and chucked the insides away as they were for animal feed. Expect it would have been absolutely fine to eat though!

  10. Pumpkin seeds can be transformed into a rather yummy (if very salty) snack:
    Put seeds in a dry frying pan, add lots of salt, roast on medium fire untill all the moisture is gone and the shells are crispy, but not brown, mixing constantly.
    Nibble in front of your favourite movie ;-), breaking over the shells with your front teeth. This used to be sold in movie teaters in Italy (at least where my mum is from) and go very well with scary movies 🙂

  11. If you have some extra:
    Pumpkin gnocchi
    Pumpkin cranberry muffins
    Pumpkin leek soup
    Pumpkin peanut butter soup


  12. Butternut quash and chorizo pasta – works just as well with pumpkin at Halloween time. Cut the pumpkin into small cubes and the chorizo into cubes or slices about the same size. Toss in a tablespoon of oil and roast in the oven for about 25 mins. Add about a small punnets worth of cherry toms halved and some chopped sage, cook for another 5 to 10 mins until the tomatoes are soft. Serve with spaghetti. It’s lovely. An old Good Food (I think) recipe that the kids love and comes into its own this time of year.

  13. Please don’t tell me that you threw the seeds away!!!! Totally delish roasted with some salt or even a light dusting of your favourite spice!!! Hugely Healthy Too

  14. After lightly roasting the washed pumpkin seeds, they can be ground in food processor and mixes with bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (and whatever seasoning you choose and a little butter) for a a nice crunch in toppings for one dish meals or sides such as mac ‘n’ cheese or casseroles. Provide not only non-mushy flavor, but a little roughage as well.

  15. Pumpkin risotto! And basically anything you do with butternut squash! Gnocchi, roast with sage, roast the seeds for snacks with salt or basically any spice you fancy, they’re yummy and soo expensive to buy! Scatter them on top of home made bread sometimes as well. No pumpkins will be chucked in our house! (Though lovely idea to give the seeds to school for mosaics, at least they are used!!) x

  16. The green skinned pumpkins (Crown Prince varieties) have a much better flavour than the orange halloween ones, which can also be more watery. However, a nine inch diameter pumpkin cut up into cubes and cooked in an 8litre stock pot with a litre of passata, a litre of appropriate stock, and a litre of water makes the best base for a range of soups, to which I tend to add whatever I have handy. This usually consists of borlotti beans, the gleanings of a weekend roast, and anything that is being sold off as a bargain in Morrisons. And celeriac for flavour. Mostly I cook the pumpkin until it has completely dissolved, making a well thickened soup (though this is not as good with orange pumpkins, which tend to be more watery), and add more chunks towards the end of the cooking for appearance.
    As for stocking up on pumpkins – the orange ones don’t keep as well either – they rot easily. But if you put them on a garden bench or table to ripen fully and for the skins to harden, then store them in a covered shelter (dry and well ventilated), they will keep until April and sometimes May. Inspect them regularly, and throw out any that develope soft or mouldy spots immediately.
    And the seeds – they don’t come true (making it a bit of an adventure), but the best thing you can do with them is grow them, if you have the space.

  17. Brilliant. We’ve got four enormous pumpkins from the allotment and I was wondering what to do with all the insides. You came along at just the right moment.

  18. All I get when I scoop out a pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern is stringy bits and seeds – are you purposely scooping out loads extra of the actual flesh?

  19. Jack, same name as my dear farmer dad. Anyway, here are the nutrients we throw away in the UK. The Pumpkin: This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

    Caloric Ratio Pyramid Estimated Glycemic Load

    88% 3% 9%
    Carbs Fats Protein

    3 Estimated Glycemic Load

    Read More

  20. You can make the seeds into pesto! Lightly toast them in a frying pan and then blend together basil, 2tbsp olive oil, 2tbsp water, 1/4 of a whole garlic bulb and your toasted pumpkin seeds. Add a little more oil if the consistency isn’t quite right. Obviously all of the quantities are approximate because who knows how many seeds you’ll have, but as a starting point it works well.

  21. I always find my pumpkin puree is too watery if I simmer or boil it. It might be the kind of pumpkins we commonly use here in New Zealand? So I put my cut pumpkin pieces into an oven bag and roast it, or a vege steamer bag and microwave it, without adding any water. It makes a thick, creamy, really tasty puree – even if the bag is a little bit wasteful!

  22. I can’t understand why anyone would throw away pumpkin flesh, but then I don’t participate in the Halloween thing either, as it is relatively new to Australia and, as far as I can tell, a commercial plot by stores to sell more sweets and costumes.

  23. This is a brilliant time of year for Thai pumpkin soup. Proportions are whatever you’ve got at hand:

    * Pumpkin puree
    * 300-450ml can coconut milk (or coconut cream for extra richness)
    * A few crushed garlic cloves
    * Pureed carrots if you like
    * Few pinches chili powder for an optional kick
    * Freshly grated cinnamon (optional)

    Cook and serve with an extra dollop of coconut milk on top. Wonderful with garlic bread or side of green or roasted veggies.

  24. Last night was spent roasting three batches of seeds in ginger, cinnamon and sugar – very more ish! The flesh was grated into a pumpkin tray bake and the rest will go into the slow cooker with lentils, green Thai curry paste and coconut milk, among other things! I get annoyed at the waste and also the fact that you can’t buy pumpkins post Oct 31!

  25. Firstly reading “American’s throw the flesh away and buy canned for cooking” just made my heart pound with fright!! (Worrying I’m so moved by that?) Sooooooo happy your freezing it! I ♡♡ freezing EVERYTHING! Gonna make soup this weekend!

  26. Yet again you inspire me, Jack! Sadly the link to the Guardian scones doesn’t seem to work – but perhaps I’ll give some jam a go…..

  27. hi jack I use the pumpkin seeds by tossing them in oil and roasting them perfect snack and healthy too

  28. Has anyone had success using frozen courgettes? I have frozen them whole and grated, but they come out very wet and I am not sure what to use them for.

    • . I have griddled courgette slices (and aubergine) frozen them and then used them in dishes and they haven’t been too bad. I wouldn’t freeze them raw.

  29. the scone recipe link doesn’t seem to be working – any chance of a report as just the idea sounds gorgeoues! I love making pumpkin bread and muffins at Halloween and find that butternut squash works almost as well the rest of the year.

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