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Food Waste

Food & Drink

5 Things to Do With a Pumpkin and One Thing Not to Do, Ever.

November 6, 2016

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween


Halloween is over but pumpkin is very much in season.

5 things to do with a pumpkinPumpkins are colourful vegetables in the squash family and they come in all shapes and sizes. They’re versatile and will last for months in a cool, dry environment. I recently heard however, that 15 MILLION pumpkins are wasted in the UK every year. If you add that figure to those wasted in Ireland, everywhere that decorates their Halloween homes and gardens, that’s a colossal amount of food waste, never mind the resources that go into growing pumpkins. Can we do something about it?

Pumpkins are inexpensive and make tasty, sweet or savoury dishes yet we undervalue them. One average size pumpkin can provide a snack, soup and dessert and they are far from bland once they’ve been roasted in the oven with oil and seasoning.

We throw out 15 million pumpkins every year in the UK.
Let’s start eating them instead of binning them. Share if you want to stop the #foodwaste horror. 🎃

Posted by OLIO – The Food Sharing Revolution on Wednesday, 26 October 2016

If you’re concerned about pumpkin waste and would like to do more with them, here’s five suggestions, including saving seeds and several links to recipes. At the end of the article there’s a short video clip showing what not to do with a pumpkin, especially if you can’t seek the help of some kind friends or family…

No. 1 – How to Save a Jack O’Lantern Pumpkin

How to save pumpkin seeds

License: (license)

Once the pumpkin is carved, there’s not much we can do but before we make it into a creepy devil or spooky cat, we can save all the flesh we scoop out and cook it.

  • Remove the ‘lid’ at the stalk end by cutting a disk shape around the top with a sharp knife. Remove as much of the flesh as you can from the inside, leaving enough so you’re able to carve it without damage. Separate the seeds and leave to one side.
  • If possible, chop the flesh into large bite sized chunks and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, if not, spread the pumpkin out on a baking tray, toss in olive oil and bake in a hot oven until roasted. Pumpkins are much easier to deal with if not trying to carve them into Halloween faces and roasted pumpkin chunks can also be served hot as a side vegetable.
  • Remove the cooked flesh from the oven and allow to cool. It can now be used in soups, puree and even a tasty pie. If you don’t have time to bake or make right now, bag up the roasted flesh when it’s cool and freeze.
Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

Pumpkin Soup

No. 2 – How to Cook with Pumpkin

I was in my thirties before I tried making any kind of  soup and it’s regularly on our lunch menu now I’ve discovered how easy soup is to make. When you grow your own vegetables, soup is a free meal and becomes a great way of feeding a crowd. Making soup is also a terrific way of using up ‘gluts’ of veg and it can be frozen too.

Apart from the ingredients, a source of heat and a blender are the main pieces of kitchen gadgetry needed. Once you have those, you’ll be flying. Basically just chop up some vegetables, add them to about a litre and a half of hot water, add a stock cube, some seasoning, heat until the veg have softened, then blitz in the blender. Job done.

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

Vegan No Bake Pumpkin Pie

I’ve a few pumpkin soup recipes in the archives if you’d like to try them, as well as a pumpkin rice recipe.

We used a soup recipe from The Happy Pear recently at Gleann na Bearu community garden. It has a heart warming gingery tang and it just feels like it must be doing some good. We also made this no-bake vegan Pumpkin Pie I’d urge you to try for special occasions, assuming you don’t have a nut allergy.

No. 3 – How to Save Pumpkin Seeds

If you’ve grown the pumpkin in your garden and you know the variety, you can save the seeds for replanting in the springtime as long as they weren’t from an F1 cultivar (they’re likely to revert back to their parentage if they were F1’s). Likewise, if you bought your pumpkin from a farmers market, ask the stall holder what variety they’re selling and you might be able to save those seeds. Supermarket pumpkin seeds may or may not germinate, but could be fun to try.

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for HalloweenTo save the seeds, scoop out the soft, seedy, fibrous flesh inside the pumpkin with a metal spoon and place into a colander.

Pick out as many of the seeds as you can before sifting through the rest under a tap of running water. (Tip: do this holding the colander over a bowl and use the drained water for the plants or flush the toilet with it.)

Leave to dry fully on parchment paper on a windowsill then pop into brown envelopes, label and store in an airtight tin until you’re ready to sow them. Always sow more than you need for when some aren’t viable. To test the viability of seeds or learn how long you can expect them to last, take a look at this archived post.

No. 4 – How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

If you purchased your pumpkin from a supermarket, it’s unlikely you’ll know its provenance so why not try cooking the seeds instead of saving them. It’s very easy and they’re tasty too.


Pumpkin seeds
Cold water (about half a litre)
2 tbls salt (or less if you don’t want the seeds overly salty)
1 tblsp olive oil

Heat oven to 20oºC/Gas 6/400ºF

Clean the seeds as above then add them to a saucepan with the salt and water, bring to the boil then simmer for ten minutes or so to allow the seeds to soften.

Take off the heat, drain, pat the seeds dry with a clean tea towel then toss in the olive oil before placing on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast in the oven for around ten to twenty minutes, until the seeds brown and are crispy.

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

“Green Man” Pumpkin

No. 5 – How to Decorate a Pumpkin without Cutting it Up

In the U.S. pumpkin decorating is massive, check out Pinterest for thousands of ideas.

A couple of years ago I entered a bloggers pumpkin decorating competition with a natural, autumnal themed entry. My ‘Green Man’ eventually shared the table with all the chutney a group of community gardeners made to sell at Savour Kilkenny Food Festival.

I made the creation pictured by collecting seasonal leaves, flowers and cones and sticking them to the pumpkin skin using a glue gun. Drawing or dressmaking pins would work well too if you’re try to avoid the chemical addition.

Don’t Try This At Home

I hope you’ve enjoyed those few ideas for using your pumpkin. Next year as Halloween approaches, if you don’t already do so please consider cooking your pumpkin instead of throwing away all the seeds and flesh. Whatever you do, don’t try this at home. Especially if you’re home alone…

photo credit: clarkmaxwell Halloween deconstructed (aka: pumpkin autopsy) via photopin (license)


OBEO – A Solution to our Kitchen Food Waste?

June 18, 2015
OBEO - A Solution to our Kitchen Food Waste?

Photo credit:

How often do you find a new product on the market that really excites you?

It’s been a while since I came across something small, simple and affordable that instantly made life easier in the kitchen, but it happened a couple of weeks ago and I’m keen to share news of it with you.

I stumbled across OBEO® in the huge marquee at Bloom in the Park recently and along with many other shoppers, was offered a couple of trial boxes to try out at home. Having now composted both boxes I can’t wait to get my hands on more.

Since we began composting I’ve tried several different types of buckets, bins and bags to collect the kitchen food waste, before tipping them onto the compost heap. Some have been more successful than others but all have been a bit fiddly or a bit slimy or smelly and most have attracted flies. This generally results in someone, on occasion, not bothering to flip the lid, but instead firing the coffee grinds, orange peel or tea bags into the refuse bin and not into the compost.

Until now.

OBEO - A Solution to our Kitchen Food Waste?The OBEO®, a small Irish business’ solution to our kitchen food waste problem,  is essentially a water-resistant brown bag enclosed in cardboard which can be closed in between use then when full of food waste, fired in its entirety into the brown bin or onto the compost heap.

There are diagrams on the back of the bag indicating what should or shouldn’t be put into it if it’s going into a brown bin – handy if you’re new to separating food waste, and a foldable cardboard handle that tucks the box closed when not in use.

And it works!

OBEO - A Solution to our Kitchen Food Waste?Due to careful shopping (we menu plan and write a weekly list, a necessity when the closest shop is an 8 mile round trip) and feeding animals, we don’t have very much food waste so it took around five days for us to fill our OBEO® with grinds and scraps.

During that time there were no flies or bad smells, and it didn’t look out-of-place on the countertop where it was at its most useful. Once full, unlike our current composting pedal bin, the box was folded shut and walked straight out to the compost, instead of spilling out on to the floor which seems to happen in our kitchen more than I like to admit.

As soon as I’d used my second bag I was onto OBEO®’s website looking for replacements. They run a handy, online shop for bulk buying (great for business’ who are trying to green up but struggling with the food segregation waste or anyone overseas) and after a tweet to @weareobeo, I was told that many Dunnes Stores and SuperValu stock smaller quantities for us regular shoppers, offering them at an RRP of €3.85 for a pack of 5, which OBEO® suggest is two weeks worth of bags.

I’m really impressed with this simple yet innovative product. If you haven’t come across their answer to food waste recycling, take a look at the OBEO® website for more information and tips on reducing food waste in general.

If you haven’t started composting, it’s something I’d recommend for everyone as apart from offering the opportunity for FREE soil conditioner, just thinking about food waste in general could save you over €1,000 a year – enough for a summer break! Here’s a handy downloadable PDF that explains how to compost that can help to get you started.

Have you found a way of saving food waste that eliminates smells and untidiness or might OBEO® be the answer to your dreams too?



Do you like curry? If so you’re invited to lunch…

November 17, 2012

Next Saturday, 24th November a delicious vegetable curry that’s totally organic, containing no processed foods will be cooked and served up – are you interested?

It would be great to see you, it’s free, during the day and easy to get to… am I tempting you yet?

Feeding 5 Thousand - You're Invited to a PartyIt will be a jolly, friendly and very social affair as another 4,900 guests have been invited too.

That’s a lot of friends for lunch! How can it be possible?

To give you some background, the curry will be made from vegetables that would otherwise have been thrown away because of aesthetics, blemishes, damaged packaged or short expiration dates that would otherwise go to waste.

I wont be trying to fit you into my garden, and to be honest I’m not even organising it, merely letting you know that this exciting food event will be taking place at Wolf Tone Park in Dublin next week from 12 noon until 4.00 pm and is being organised to drive awareness around the problem of waste food in Ireland. There are many positive solutions to the food waste problem that sees 30% of what we buy in the bin and the Feeding 5000 Campaign aims to highlight this.

Supported by four partners: VOICE – Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment, Stop Food Waste, Bia Foodbank and Food Glorious Food and organised by Tristram Stuart (author of Food Waste, Uncovering the Global Food Scandal), this type of event has successfully been run in Paris, Bristol and London and highlights how easy it is to reduce the unimaginable levels of food waste.

So what ingredients will be added to your vegetable curry?

150kg potatoes
300kg rice
120kg cauliflowers
150kg carrots
100kg peas
80kg courgettes
15kg coriander
80kg daal/lentils
80kg butter
7kg salt

Are you as secretly relieved as I am that I’m not one of the volunteers who will be peeling and slicing that mountain of veg! That’s a lot of potential compost too! It’s all in a good cause though so fair play to all of those who are involved in the organisation of this event and I’m sure there will be great camaraderie amongst everyone involved. If you’re available and would like to volunteer to help you can email

As part of the afternoon a few initiatives will be highlighted including:

VOICE will be launching its food waste campaign and advocating that the government adopt the Good Samaritan Food Act which relieves the liability from sharing leftover food whilst encouraging the government to offer tax deductions around food donations.

Stop Food Waste aims to highlight the problem of food waste and how reducing food waste removes the cost associated with disposal.

Food Glorious Food is launching an App to match businesses with surplus food to charities requiring food.

Bia Foodbank highlighting the Foodbank’s need for premises in Dublin to further develop its services.

Take a look at this brilliant TED video where Tristram Stuart talks about his passion for using and raising awareness around food waste and how it began with his pigs.

For further information check out:

Will you be going? Hope to see you there!! You can sign up and register your interest on the Feeding5K Facebook Page and please, spread the word!


Compost – How each household could save up to €1,000 a year

January 9, 2012

Composting: How it can save you moneyIf you’re not already composting, the start of a new year is a good time to start afresh and plan to do so.

Last year I attended a very interesting seminar at the chambers given by Nuala on behalf of theStop Food Waste Campaign which, apart from giving us a free source of organic matter, explained why composting is so important. The campaign is a great initiative primarily aimed at reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfill each year, and encouraging us to think more carefully about how we shop, cook and eat.

Their website is a mine of information and well worth a look but a couple of points that were highlighted include:

  • The average person throws out the equivalent of three grown men of waste each year, 30% of which is made up of food and 7% of garden and landscaping materials.
  • One third of food that Irish households buy is wasted – the equivalent of a third of our groceries being stolen out of our shopping trolleys.
  • The average household could save up to €1,000 a year by avoiding this waste by composting.

From our own perspective I’m so glad we have chickens and dogs for the cooked food leftovers. We also keep our waste to a minimum by writing weekly shopping lists and compost as much as we can, just using a few old pallets to make a couple of containers to contain it. Those practices combined with recycling, means that our family of five produces on average one black bin bag of refuse destined for the landfill every two weeks.

Nuala highlighted a few different composting systems and I was particularly interested in the ones for smaller gardens, as I’m often asked about them.

One was a Bokashi which seems like a really handy way of composting if you don’t have a big garden but use an allotment. Wormeries are another great alternative to compost bins and heaps, especially if you don’t currently compost because you’re worried about vermin. It’s worth keeping an eye on the catalogues or in your garden centres as different products become available, such as this Earthmaker Aerobic Composter where research has shown that it will make twice as much compost as traditional bins over the same period.

If you have a few minutes, do take a couple of minutes to check out the Stop Food Waste website above.

For anybody who isn’t already composting and doesn’t have the Brown bin option for their ‘green’ waste, it was suggested that they get a small bucket with a lid and throw all their food waste into it for a week or two to see how much is thrown away.

Would you be willing to give that challenge a go?

If you’d like to know more about composting, there’s a free downloadable pdf file available in the Gardening Information and Jobs link above, giving full details on how to compost.