Photos clockwise from top left: Boiled Large Pumpkin Puree, Caramelized Roasted Pumpkin Seeds,
Layered Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Jerky. (Photos: Gentl & Hyers)

Pumpkins are a fall décor essential from Halloween to Thanksgiving; everyone’s favorite large orange gourds evoke the autumnal spirit. Unfortunately, while an uncarved pumpkin can remain edible 8-12 weeks after being picked, many decorative pumpkins end up in the trash, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many great uses for whole pumpkins in the kitchen. (Note: while the seeds, and clean, carved-out piece of a jack-o-lantern can be eaten, we don’t recommend eating a carved pumpkin.)

For some culinary suggestions, we turn to the chef/forager team of Mads Refslund and Tama Matsuoka Wong. They are waste-not, want-not food repurpose specialists and the authors of Scraps, Wilt + Weeds, a cookbook full of wonderful ideas of ways to use the parts of our food that are usually destined for the compost or trash can. Refslund and Wong share four recipes using whole pumpkins.

Start with Boiled Large Pumpkin Puree that you can use in savory dishes and sweet desserts. Use some of that puree to make Layered Pumpkin Pie, a unique twist on the classic dessert that involves baking a sweet filling right inside the sliced-off bottom portion of the pumpkin. Complementary to the pie – but also wonderful on their own – are Caramelized Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Jerky. Seeds are a fun snack for all ages, and the jerky is a great way to make use the flesh and skin of the pumpkin. Get your family or friends involved, and put your decorative pumpkins to work in the kitchen.

Scraps, Wilt + Weeds by Mads Refslund and Tama Matsuoka Wong (Author photo: Gentl & Hyers)
Chip Walton
Chip Walton is a digital producer for The Splendid Table. He is obsessed with cooking, craft beer, homebrewing, home fermentation, hot peppers, barbecue, Instant Pots and beagles.