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!