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Pumpkins, Halloween and Composting

Halloween is a time for spooky decorations, and one of the most popular decorations is the carved pumpkin. But why do we carve pumpkins at Halloween?

Carved Pumpkins
Carved Pumpkin - https://bit.ly/41KbV8r

Why do we Carve Pumpkins

The tradition of carving pumpkins at Halloween actually comes from an old Irish legend. The legend tells the story of a man named Stingy Jack who tricked the devil and then trapped him in a tree by carving a cross into the bark. When Jack died, he was not allowed into heaven or hell, so he was forced to wander the earth with only a carved-out turnip with a candle inside to light his way.

When Irish immigrants came to America, they brought the tradition of carving turnips with them. But turnips were hard to come by in America, so they started using pumpkins instead. Today, carving pumpkins is a popular Halloween tradition all over the world.

Carving pumpkins allows us to express our creativity and add a spooky touch to our homes during Halloween. The process of carving a pumpkin can also be a fun activity to do with friends and family.

So now you know why we carve pumpkins at Halloween.

Carving your own pumpkin

Pumpkin carving is a fun and creative way to celebrate Halloween, but it's important to do it safely to avoid injury. Follow these steps to safely carve your pumpkins and make the most of the pumpkin flesh:

Step 1:

Choose a Pumpkin that is firm and free of bruises or soft spots. It should also have a flat bottom to make carving easier.

Pumpkin (with flat bottom)
Choose a pumpkin with a flat bottom

Step 2:

Gather Your Tools: You'll need a sharp knife, a spoon, and a marker to draw your design on your pumpkins.

Step 3:

Cut Off the Top Using a sharp knife, carefully cut off the top of the pumpkin. Cut at a slight angle to create a lid that won't fall inside the pumpkin.

Step 4:

Scoop Out the Seeds and Flesh Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and flesh from the inside of the pumpkin. Separate the seeds from the flesh for later use.

Step 5:

Draw Your Design Use a marker to draw your design on the pumpkin. If you're not confident in your drawing skills, you can print out a template and tape it to the pumpkin.

Step 6:

Carve Your Design Using a sharp knife, carefully cut along the lines of your design. Take your time and be careful not to cut yourself.

Step 7:

Light Your Pumpkin Place a candle or battery-operated light inside the pumpkin to illuminate your design. Be sure to keep the pumpkin away from anything flammable.

Step 8:

Don't Waste the Inside The pumpkin flesh can be used in a variety of recipes, including pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin soup. Don't throw it away!

Step 9:

Compost After Halloween Once Halloween is over, don't throw your pumpkin in the bin. Compost it instead! Chop it up into small pieces and add it to your compost pile.

By following these steps, you can safely carve pumpkins, make the most of the pumpkin flesh, and compost after Halloween is over. Happy carving!

Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Soup - https://bit.ly/3mTtxjr

How to make your Pumpkins in to soup:

Ingredients:

  • Insides of 1 medium-sized pumpkin (seeds and flesh)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Separate the pumpkin seeds from the flesh. Set the seeds aside for roasting later.
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and potato. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.
  3. Add the pumpkin flesh to the pot and stir well. Pour in the vegetable stock, cumin, and nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, allowing the flavours to meld together.
  4. While the soup is simmering, prepare the pumpkin seeds for roasting. Rinse the seeds to remove any pulp, then pat them dry with a paper towel. Toss them with a little olive oil, salt, and any desired spices (such as paprika or cayenne pepper). Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated oven at 180°C (160°C for fan ovens) or gas mark 4 for about 15-20 minutes, or until they turn golden brown and crispy.
  5. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the soup until smooth and creamy. If using a regular blender, blend in batches and be cautious of the hot liquid.
  6. Return the soup to the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the soup gently until warmed through.
  7. Ladle the pumpkin soup into bowls, garnish with fresh parsley if desired, and serve hot.
  8. Enjoy the delicious homemade pumpkin soup, made from the insides of your carved pumpkins!

This recipe allows you to make the most of your pumpkins by using both the flesh for the soup and the seeds for a tasty snack. It's a wonderful way to repurpose the leftover pumpkin after Halloween festivities.

Conclusion

The tradition of carving pumpkins at Halloween has a fascinating origin rooted in an Irish legend about Stingy Jack, evolving over time into a cherished global tradition. Carving pumpkins not only allows us to express creativity but also adds a spooky and festive atmosphere to our homes during this haunting holiday.

As you embark on your pumpkin-carving journey, remember to do so safely by selecting the right pumpkin, using appropriate tools, and taking precautions to prevent accidents. Moreover, don't forget that the inside of the pumpkin is a valuable resource that can be transformed into delicious dishes like pumpkin soup and roasted pumpkin seeds, ensuring none of this wonderful fruit goes to waste.

Halloween is a time for fun, creativity, and celebration, and carving pumpkins is a delightful way to embrace the spirit of the season. So, whether you're carving alone or with loved ones, may your Halloween be filled with spooky delights, imaginative designs, and the warmth of homemade pumpkin treats.

Happy carving and happy Halloween!

a group of pumpkins with faces painted on them
Photographer: Bee Felten-Leidel | Source: Unsplash
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