Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween! Discover fun and tasty ways to enjoy pumpkins all year round.
Pumpkins are a great source of potassium and vitamin A, and they can be used in a plethora of tasty dishes ranging from soups to risotto. Here, we've highlighted our favourite things to do with pumpkins, for Halloween and beyond.
This age-old tradition is great fun for the whole family. It's something that can be done together, reaping those precious family moments. You can be as creative as you want and carve anything from the classic Jack-o-Lantern face to your very own spooky artistic masterpiece. Get your children to scoop out the slimy pumpkin guts and seeds and create a family pumpkin gallery.
To create a Jack-o-Lantern, you’ll need:
- A pumpkin
- A carving knife
- A pencil
- A piece of paper
- A cutting board
- A spoon
- A tea light candle or battery-operated tea light
Step by Step:
- Wash and dry the outside of your pumpkin to remove the dirt and any pesticides.
- Take the pencil and draw a hexagon around the stem at the top of the pumpkin.
- Take the carving knife and insert it into the pumpkin on your pencil line. Make sure to cut on an angle so the point of the knife is toward the middle of the pumpkin.
- Once you have cut all the way around, remove the top. Turn the piece you have removed on its side and cut across so that it has a flat bottom. Rest the flat bottom on the cutting board and cut a triangular piece out of the "lid" so that the smoke will be able to rise out of the pumpkin. This is important so that your pumpkin doesn't catch fire.
- Take the metal spoon and scoop out all the pumpkin guts. Separate out the seeds and try roasting them like suggested below. If you plan to make soup, scoop out some of the pumpkin flesh, but be careful not to pierce the skin.
- Once you have hollowed out the pumpkin together, have your child design the face or pattern on the piece of paper first, and then either trace it on to the pumpkin or draw it again.
- Cut out the pattern with the carving knife. Always carve on an outwards angle to allow more space for the light to filter through.
- Place a tea light in the bottom of the pumpkin and place the lid back on.
- Light the tea light when it's dark outside and see what a scary job you've done!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
When you scoop out the guts from a pumpkin for carving, collect and wash the seeds and spread them over a baking tray one seed deep. Drizzle some oil and any spices or seasonings over the seeds and slowly roast them in the oven at a low temperature until they go a nice golden brown colour. Keep an eye on them as they can go from golden to burnt quite quickly.
Not only are these a great healthy snack, but they also add flavour and crunch to salads too.
Spicy Pumpkin Nibbles
What you'll need:
- Pumpkin seeds, washed and towel dried
- Olive oil (or vegetable oil)
- Chilli flakes
- Grease proof paper
- Baking tray
- Pop a piece of grease proof paper onto a baking tray.
- Spread your pumpkin seeds out so that they cover the tray and are not stacked on top of each other. You may find that you have enough seeds to do two trays depending on how seedy your pumpkin was.
- In a bowl, mix olive oil with chilli flakes and crushed garlic. The amounts depend on how many seeds you need to cover.
- Drizzle the olive oil mix over your pumpkin seeds so that they are all coated.
- Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt.
- Place in the preheated oven at a medium heat, and check regularly, turning over, until the seeds turn a golden brown.
Other delicious options: Exchange the chilli flakes for cumin, rosemary, or any other spice you think your children would like.
If you’re looking for ways to get your children to eat more veggies, then pumpkin soup is a great option. Pumpkin is high in fibre with a natural sweetness that is delicious in a creamy soup.
And remember, children are far more likely to try something new if they have helped you make it, so whip out the aprons and have fun cooking up this tasty soup together.
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
What you'll need:
- 1 to 1.5 kg cooking pumpkin
- 2 tsp. butter
- 2 potatoes
- 1 to 1.5 litres vegetable stock
- 2 medium sized white onions
- Crème fraiche
- Chop your onions, pumpkin, and potatoes into small pieces. The smaller the pumpkin pieces, the faster they will cook.
- Melt butter in the bottom of your sauce pan and brown the chopped onion.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring it to a boil. If you like your soup to be thicker, only add 1 litre.
- Once the broth is boiling, add the cubes of pumpkin and potato and simmer until both are fully cooked (approx. 30-40 minutes)
- Blend the mixture with a hand mixer or blender until smooth.
- Divide the soup into bowls and add finely chopped coriander (optional) and a dollop of crème fraiche to each bowl.
Some other child-friendly soup recipes to try:
Looking for a sweeter pumpkin option? Why not make a classic American pumpkin pie?
Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie
What you’ll need:
- 1 sugar pumpkin or 500ml canned pumpkin puree
- 500ml double cream
- 75g dark brown sugar
- 50g white sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 eggs (if you want the pie to be fluffier, add the whites of 2 more eggs)
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 pie crust (you can make your own or buy a ready-made pie crust)
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius.
- If you are making your own puree:
Peel the pumpkin and cut the flesh into cubes
Boil the cubes until they are soft. This can take a while so give yourself time. (usually, 40-60 minutes depending on how large the cubes are.)
Once cooked, mash the pumpkin and strain off any extra water, or use a hand mixer.
- If making a crust from scratch, prepare it while the pumpkin is cooking.
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar, salt, spices and pumpkin puree.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until fluffy. Now fold the eggs into the other mixture.
- Once everything is mixed in, pour the mixture into your pie crust and bake for 15 minutes then turn the temperature down to 180 degrees and bake for another 40-50 minutes (or until a knife can be inserted into the centre and removed cleanly).
- Let the pie cool for 2 hours before serving.
Note: this dish is lovely on its own or served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Some other child-friendly choices:
Carved too many pumpkins? Can't handle any more pumpkin soup this side of Christmas? Pop the pumpkin flesh into a freezer bag and save it for a rainy day. Because Pumpkins contain such a high percentage of water (90%), they freeze well and retain their flavour so you can make soup or pie even when pumpkins are not in season.
Compost your Pumpkin
After Halloween has come and gone, you can bury your pumpkin in your garden. The pumpkin will decompose and make the soil in your garden a more hospitable place for any plants you decide to grow next year.