Halloween Pumpkins

Halloween’s coming up in a few days! If you’re looking for ways to be more environmentally-friendly this Halloween, Larry West has an excellent Green Halloween Tips article, offering 8 tips on how to:

  1. Trick or Treat with Reusable Bags
  2. Make Do-It-Yourself Costumes
  3. Give Eco-Friendly Treats
  4. Walk, Don’t Drive
  5. Make Your Halloween Party Eco-Friendly
  6. Reuse and Recycle
  7. Keep Halloween Clean
  8. Keep it Going

Here are additional tips from our own Land and Food Systems community:

  • Waste Not! When carving your Jack-O-Lantern, Duncan, in our Learning Centre, recommends keeping the seeds and roasting them as a healthy and delicious snack! I like to soak mine in a bit of salt water first, drain, and then bake at 300 F for about 45 minutes. How do YOU like to roast your pumpkin seeds?
  • Not sure what to do with your leftover Jack O’Lantern? Recycle it! Though your pumpkin will be a bit scorched after Halloween, it’ll still taste good in soup! Just remember to use a dish to catch the candle wax when it’s lit. Shannon, one of our faculty members, has offered her recipe for (Vegetarian) Jack O’Lantern Soup!
  1. Take the candle out of the Jack O’Lantern and keep cool until cooking time (max. 24 hours from Halloween night, ideally).
  2. Cut the pumpkin into 5 or 6 pieces roughly the same size, leaving outer skin on.
  3. Place pieces on baking sheet (the ones with an edge, or use an oven safe dish or pan) and put at least 1 inch of water in the bottom. Pieces can be skin up or skin down – I usually put skin up so the flesh gets “steamed” from the hot water and cooks faster.
  4. Put baking dish in 350 F oven for about 45 min – 60 min.
    To test doneness, pierce a pumpkin piece with a fork. If the fork goes cleanly through without any resistance, your pumpkin is done.
  5. Cool. While cooling, chop garlic, onion, celery and ginger (or any other spices and vegetables you want in your soup).
    In a medium sized pot with heavy bottom, saute the garlic, onion and spices in about 2 Tbsp oil (I use organic canola) until translucent.
  6. Remove flesh by scooping it off the skin (this is super easy once cooked and cooled). If you want a smooth pumpkin soup, it does not matter what shape or size your scoops are. Place them directly into the saute.
  7. Add other vegetables for your soup. Add approximately 1 cup water to 1 cup pumpkin.
  8. Cook on medium heat until the soup “boils”, then turn to a low simmer for about 10 minutes. Blend (hand blender works best, or use a counter top blender, but be careful if the liquid is hot!).
  9. Garnish and serve. Garnish ideas: fresh grated cheese (parmesan, feta, whatever!), toasted sesame seeds, toasted pumpkin seeds, grated apple or raw beet, cilantro chopped finely, sauteed mushrooms in garlic and butter (yum!)…the list is endless!

Note: You can use chunks of pumpkin and other vegetables like zucchini, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beet, etc. In this case, your chunky soup will be done when all veggies are soft but not overcooked. More spices and some seasalt can be added in the 10 min final cooking. Omit the blending.


  • Gwen, another faculty member, likes to puree her leftover pumpkin for future use in muffins, loaf, pies…etc.

I always cook ours. Shortly after Halloween (hopefully the next day), I cut the Jack-o-Lanterns into large chunks (cutting out any bits that havebeen charred by candle flames), and put them in an uncovered baking dish. I bake them in the oven at about 325 degrees until they are totally soft. This probably takes over an hour — maybe 1.5 hours? I let them cool until I can handle them, peel them, and puree the pumpkin flesh. I put the puree in a colander lined with a coffee filter to let some of the water out, then freeze the pumpkin puree in ~2 cup batches. I use it throughout the year for pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin loaf, pumpkin pie…anything that calls for canned pureed pumpkin. I hate to see all those jack-o-lanterns rotting in the street in November — there’s lots of good food in them! [Gwen‘s one of our nutrition professors, by the way!] 😉

  • Buy pumpkins from Local Farmers! Buy a pumpkin from the UBC Farm for just $2! This Saturday (Oct 27th, from 10am to 3pm), you can even carve that pumpkin on site, make a scarecrow, or learn how to make pumpkin pie…all for a minimum donation of $5! Come out to the Scarecrow & Pumpkin Festival and support the UBC Farm!
  • While you’re out at UBC, be sure not to miss UBC Botanical Garden‘s Bootiful Botany Haunted Halloween! It’s a fun (FREE) family event, and kids get the opportunity to learn about spooky plants!

Planet Earth Photo courtesy of NASA (http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap050102.html)

Doh! Missed out on Blog Action Day! On Oct 15th, bloggers the world over talk about one issue – this year’s topic: our environment.

Oh well, regardless, it’s never a bad time to share ideas on how to be more sustainable! Here’s what our faculty is doing to help save the earth!

  1. Eco-friendly Research
    An organic bug spray was developed by our very own Dean (Murray Isman). It’s harmless to human health because it’s made of stuff you can find in your own kitchen! Marketed under the EcoSMART brand, check out the complete story here.
  2. Food Security
    Agora is a student-run café in the basement of our MacMillan building at UBC. Volunteers are contributing to food security by buying local and fair trade products wherever possible. They are responsible stewards of the environment by composting and producing as little waste as possible. These young global citizens are definitely worth applauding! Check out their website to see how one group project became one of the favourite spots for yummy and healthy food among our faculty and staff!
  3. UBC Farm
    Can anyone think of a better way for students to learn about sustainable agriculture and the connection between land and food than to get hands-on at our very own farm-within-the-city? Although Market Garden season is over now, you can still read up on community gardens, school field trips, and our upcoming Scarecrow Festival at the UBC Farm website!
  4. Courses in Sustainability
    Our faculty offers a handful of courses related to sustainability and the environment. Check out our website for more details!
  5. Paperless office
    Historically, all communications with students were recorded on paper. A student’s degree progress was also checked against a paper checklist. However, since UBC purchased new software (Degree Navigator), and improved its existing Student Information Service Centre, our faculty has become virtually a paperless office. For more information, check out the interview earlier this year with Lynn Newman-Saunders.More recently, we purchased new fax machines that have the option of forwarding all incoming faxes to email. Money-well-spent! If anything, it’s satisfying to know that spammers aren’t wasting our precious paper for their junk faxes! Score: Faculty 1, Spammers 0!