The great Hallowe'en pumpkin rescue

| 31st October 2014
Glowing pumpkins of the night, our to eat, not just to fright. Photo: Andrea Verganic via Flickr.
Glowing pumpkins of the night, our to eat, not just to fright. Photo: Andrea Verganic via Flickr.

Glowing pumpkins of the night,
Ours to eat! Not just to fright ....
Photo: Andrea Vergani via Flickr.

Every Hallowe'en the UK throws away enough pumpkin to make 360 million portions of pumpkin pie, soup, or cake, writes Gavin Ellis - a shocking waste in these hungry times. Hence a bold new initiative to rescue all those pumpkins from landfill, and turn them into delicious food we can all enjoy as part of our seasonal festivities.
Hallowe'en is increasingly popular in the UK, but we seem to have ignored a crucial part of the US tradition: cooking with pumpkins rather than throwing them in the bin.

An estimated 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin was sent to landfill sites in the UK last Hallowe'en, which is why new the environmental organisation Hubbub has launched the #pumpkinrescue campaign to inform people about the amount of edible food that gets sent to landfill.

New research by Populus shows that nearly two thirds (64%) of people throw their pumpkins away once Halloween is over. More than half (52%) of those who buy pumpkins would welcome more recipes to decrease waste.

18,000 tonnes of pumpkin is the same weight as 1,500 double decker buses - and if made into pumpkin pie it could make 360 million portions!

It's a shocking fact that demonstrates how much edible food is thrown away throughout the country, at a time when an estimated 5.8 million people are living in deep poverty.

In the UK we throw away over 7 million tonnes of edible food and drink from our homes each year, according to WRAP. Wasting edible food costs the average UK family £60 a month, and when food is sent to landfill it emits harmful greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.

Glowing pumpkins of the night,
Ours to eat! Not just to fright ...

To encourage consumers to think about the food they throw away and teach them new skills to combat waste, Hubbub has launched the #pumpkinrescue campaign and is hosting the Oxford Pumpkin Festival - which continues until 9th November.

Local restaurants, farmers, retailers, food banks, school children and students will all be involved in a series of events - including an outdoor mini food festival, communal soup making, immersive performances and cooking workshops.

There's also a tweetathon using #pumpkinrescue today, Friday 31st October.

As my colleague Trewin Restorick, Hubbub's founder and CEO, says: "Hallowe'en is increasingly popular in the UK, but we seem to have ignored a crucial part of the US tradition: cooking with pumpkins rather than throwing them in the bin. With household food budgets under pressure, and 18,000 tonnes sent to landfill each year, it's time we rescued the pumpkin."

"Pumpkin Rescue aims to help consumers think about the food they throw away - providing recipes and new skills to help tackle food waste."

The #pumpkinrescue manifesto

To support the launch of #pumpkinrescue, Hubbub has launched a five-point manifesto, which calls on communities, retailers and the Government to take action to end food waste.

  1. All supermarkets to make publicly available the amount of food waste they create and detail what happens to it.  These figures should be independently verified and consistent so that the public can accurately compare supermarket performance.
  2. All supermarkets to ensure safe and healthy surplus food is redistributed to those on low incomes and to actively work with charities to make this happen.
  3. English local authorities to follow the lead set by the rest of the UK and increase domestic food waste collection provision from a fifth to all households by 2020.
  4. Government to increase their investment in the Love Food Hate Waste campaign which is successfully cutting food waste.
  5. To increase consumer awareness of the benefits of freezing food that would otherwise be thrown away saving them £250 a year and reducing domestic food waste by 47%.

And with many households simply not knowing how to turn all their Hallowe'en pumpkins into delicious edible form, we are promoting these fantastic #pumpkinrescue recipes to help you get the most out of them. Enjoy!

Hallowe'en is increasingly popular in the UK, but we seem to have ignored a crucial part of the US tradition: cooking with pumpkins rather than throwing them in the bin.

Ainsley's Spiced Pumpkin Cake

Ingredients: 250g plain flour / 1 tsp bicarb of soda / 1 tsp cinnamon / ¼ tsp ground cloves / 1 ½ tsp ground ginger / ½ tsp allspice / Pinch of salt / 150g soft brown sugar / 60g softened butter / 1 large egg / 150g molasses or black treacle / 120ml boiling water / 200g pumpkin flesh

For the pumpkin puree, cut the pumpkin into quarters, then peel and cut into chunks. Place in a large saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain, cool, then puree in a food processor or mash with a potato masher.

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm/8inch deep cake tin. Sift flour, bicarb, ginger, spices and salt into a large bowl. Stir the molasses / treacle into the boiling water until well combined, then stir in 200g of pumpkin puree.

Beat together the butter and sugar until pale, add the egg and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the pumpkin and egg mixture into the dry ingredients until well combined. Do not over mix.

Pour into the cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 45-50 mins or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and serve with custard or coconut custard. Serves 8.

Recipe provided by Ainsley Harriet.

Rubies' Pumpkin Chutney

Ingredients: 750g 1cm diced pumpkin / 500g sugar / 400ml cider vinegar / 1 large onion, chopped / 2 tsp dried chilli flakes / 1 tsp paprika / 80g fresh ginger / 1 tsp cinnamon powder / 150g sultanas / 400g apple, peeled and 1cm diced / 1 tbsp oil / handful of pumpkin seeds (optional)

Put the oil in a pan with the chilli flakes, cinnamon, fresh ginger (and pumpkin seeds if adding). Heat through being careful the spices don't burn.

Add the chopped onion and cook through for 5 mins, then add the vinegar, sultanas and sugar. Stir until boiling and the sugar dissolves. Add the pumpkin and apple and cook until the chutney is thick and the pumpkin is cooked through (this could take 2 hours). 

Taste and vary spices according to your liking, then jar in to dry, clean jars and start decorating your label! Happy Pumpkin preserving!

Recipe provided by Rubies in the Rubble.

Tom's Pumpkin, Ricotta and Ginger Tarts

Pumpkin Puree: 200g of rough dice pumpkin / 25g of shallots / knob of butter / 150ml of double cream / 10g of ginger, grated / 1 pinch of salt / 3 pinches of pepper

Pastry: 125g plain flour / 1 pinch of salt / 55g butter, cubed / 2-3 tbsp cold water

Pumpkin & Ricotta: 100g of 2cm dice pumpkin / 15mls of olive oil / 2 sprigs of picked thyme / 1 pinch of salt / 3 pinches of pepper / 100g ricotta cheese

Filling: 50g crème fraiche / 50ml whole milk / 50ml double cream / 2 eggs

Puree: Peel and de-seed the pumpkin and cut into a rough dice. Sweat off the shallots in the butter, then add the squash and ginger and gently cook for approximately 5 minutes in an oiled pan. Add the cream and cook until the pumpkin is tender, then strain off the cream and blend the squash to a puree - add back some of the strained cream if needed to give it a smooth consistency.

Pastry: Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the cubes of butter. Rub the butter into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in just enough cold water to bind the dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 10-15 mins.

Pumpkin and Ricotta: Peel and dice the pumpkin, place in a large bowl, dress with olive oil, thyme and seasoning, place on a large tray and cover with foil. Cook at 160°C until tender. Crumble the ricotta and leave to one side until ready to assemble.

Main filling: Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

To assemble: Line 4 individual tart tins with the pastry, then pour 1tbsp of puree in each tin and spread it around the pastry bottom using the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the pumpkin and ricotta over the top of the puree, then pour in the filling. Add the final small spoonful's of the pumpkin puree on top and garnish with the thyme. Bake the tarts in the oven at 160°C for 15 minutes.

Recipe provided by Tom Aikens / Tom's Kitchen.



Gavin Ellis is one of the Founders of Hubbub. Previously Gavin was Senior Client Manager at Global Action Plan, one of the UK's leading environmental charities. There he led major environmental behaviour change campaigns with clients such as Sainsbury's, Telefonica and Unilever. Prior to that Gavin was Marketing Manager at Global Action Plan. He also set up the UK's first online carbon calculator and the UK's first environmental lifestyle magazine Ergo.

Twitter: @hubbubuk

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