How to Use Every Last Part of Your Pumpkin
One of the saddest parts of Halloween is seeing all of our favorite pumpkins go to waste after the trick-or-treating festivities die down. In an effort to eliminate waste and extend the lives of our pumpkins beyond mere decoration, we talked to Canadian expat and Los Angeles-based private chef Corey Burgan for his expert advice. Burgan taught us how to use every part of our pumpkins—from the seeds to the stem—so that we never have to feel guilty about going on a pumpkin splurge again.
Burgan advises opting for sugar pie pumpkins, sugar pumpkins, and small orange pumpkins. “My favorite is the sugar pie,” says Corey. “They have a sweet flesh, and they’re the perfect size (about three pounds) for all basic recipes.” Scroll through for his top tips on how to use every single part of a pumpkin.
Unfortunately, the stem isn’t very edible, but it is a great resource for Halloween crafts. To prepare your pumpkin, cut around the stem as close as possible without damaging it. It’s best to make lots of small cuts so as not to break the stem (which is often fragile). Then scrape all of the pumpkin meat from the stem’s underbelly. Leave your stems in a cool, dry place until completely dry; then use sandpaper to sand them down. Once they're ready, make your own Halloween decorations with them, like these glamorous velvet pumpkins. We love throwing Halloween dinner parties and resting place cards against a velvet pumpkin display.
A three-pound sugar pie pumpkin should yield approximately one-and-a-half cups of seeds. Once you’ve removed your pumpkin’s stem, slice your pumpkin in half and scrape out all of the pulp and seeds with a soup spoon. Separate the seeds and the pulp into two separate bowls. Corey gives us a professional tip about this process: “Dip your fingers in a bowl of water to help separate the seeds from the pulp,” he says. Rinse your seeds in a colander or strainer before roasting, removing all of the pulp from the seeds.
“Season the seeds with your desired flavor,” says Corey. “My go-to savory and sweet flavors are oil, chili, salt, and pepper and then oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg (pumpkin spice).”
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the seeds on a lined baking sheet until toasted (10 to 15 minutes).
Not all pumpkin recipes have to be edible. We love how Corey thought outside of the box and made a body scrub with the pumpkin pulp. After giving ourselves a good scrub last night, we’re very happy to report that this homemade spa remedy works like a charm. Our skin has never been smoother—or gotten us more in the pumpkin-carving mood.
1/2 cup pumpkin pulp
1 and 1/2 cups coarse sugar/salt/baking soda
1 tablespoon. agave/honey
2 tablespoons coconut or almond oil
2 sprigs fresh lavender
Place pulp in a blender and set on lowest speed and purée. Shut off and scrape the sides and then repeat process for five to six minutes, gradually increasing the speed to three. The higher the speed, the more the pulp will spray on the sides of the blender (which leads to more scraping). Squeeze in the agave, blend, and then scrape out the pulp. Fold in the remainder of the ingredients and refrigerate. Kept refrigerated, this recipe last for up to a week.
Bonus: Baking soda is a soothing ingredient for sensitive skin.
Corey is all about using the pumpkin skin to make pumpkin chips. Now that you’ve halved your pumpkin and scooped out its innards, coat both halves with olive oil, salt, pepper, and, if you’re feeling adventurous, chili powder. Place the halves face down on a lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45, minutes or until the flesh is tender.
Let the pumpkin cool until you can (literally) handle the heat and begin removing the skin with your fingers. Place the skin shards on a dehydrating sheet or a lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt and dehydrate, or place on the lowest setting of the oven to dry for roughly six hours, or overnight.
Chef’s note: If you're using the oven, make sure to leave the door ajar to allow for airflow.
The flesh is the easiest part of the pumpkin to use. Corey’s favorite recipes that use pumpkin flesh are pumpkin hummus and pumpkin soup. His pumpkin hummus recipe is so good that we’ve somehow gone through an entire Mason jar’s worth in one workday, and his pumpkin soup is the ultimate treat on a cool autumn night. Read on for his signature recipes.
1/2 of a roasted pumpkin, chopped (2 cups lightly packed)
1 can chickpeas
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon cumin
Place all ingredients in a blender or a food processor and puree to hummus consistency; season to taste with salt and pepper. Place in serving bowl and drizzle with quality olive oil. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin chips.
Shop some essential pumpkin tools below.