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Low Waste Baking | Pumpkin Cherry Muffins

Perfect for fall, try out this low waste pumpkin cherry muffin recipe. We used fresh pumpkin from our garden but canned pumpkin will work just as well. Enjoy!

After a failed attempt at growing pumpkins last summer, we grew one prolific pumpkin plant this summer that spanned nearly the entire length of our garden. Despite the amount of space the vine consumed and the number of blossoms we saw, only three pumpkins flourished to fruition. 

We chose to grow little pie pumpkins, so they were not large enough to carve for Halloween. We did, however, have plenty of pumpkin puree to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and this pumpkin cherry muffin recipe, a new treat in our arsenal that turned out to be delicious.

Perfect for fall, try out this low waste pumpkin cherry muffin recipe. We used fresh pumpkin from our garden but canned pumpkin will work just as well. Enjoy! | #HonestlyModern #zerowaste #zerowastefood #recipe

The pumpkins ripened near the end of July and into August, quite a bit earlier than I expected. They sat on our counter for over a month. One of the great things about produce like pumpkins and squash is that they have long shelf lives compared to many of the other things we grew in our garden.

When we were ready to bake our cookies, we first baked the whole pumpkin (sliced in two) in the oven to create homemade pumpkin puree. Admittedly, buying a can of pumpkin puree from the grocery store is faster and more convenient then growing a pumpkin and baking it into a puree ourselves. Once planted though, pumpkins generally take care of themselves, and preparing a pumpkin to bake into puree is really quite simple. 

If you have the space to grow pumpkins yourself, the little bit of extra effort is well worth the satisfaction and enjoyment of watching a small seed blossom into a gigantic vine that crawls across your yard or garden and bears familiar food to bring into your kitchen. As you might expect, the homegrown pumpkin tasted a bit more fresh and delicious than canned pumpkin; we could definitely taste a difference in the cookies. 

How To | From Pumpkin To Pumpkin Puree

To create the pumpkin puree, we simply cut the pumpkin in half, scooped out the seeds, and set them aside to make pumpkin seeds. We preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. We covered a cookie sheet in aluminum foil, though you could also use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to protect the pan.

We baked the pumpkins for about an hour, face down to prevent them from drying out. The length of time required for baking, however, will depend on the size of your pumpkin, so check the pumpkin in the oven periodically and take it out when the inside of the pumpkin is nice and soft.

I could have pureed the pumpkin flesh in a food processor to obtain a consistency more like that of puree in a can from the store. However, I chose to use the pumpkin as is after baking and the results were delicious.

I mentioned that the first recipe we baked with the puree was our favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. They’re always a big hit when we make them for family and friends. My sister loves them so much she had these cookies at her wedding instead of cake.

With a bit of extra pumpkin on hand, I chose to get creative and try a new pumpkin cherry muffin recipe.

Pinterest abounds with pumpkin and cranberry recipes, but I added dried cherries because we had them on hand and I was looking for a way to use them up. Of course, we could eat the dried cherries as a simple snack, but why not add a little flair to a perfect fall recipe?

They were delicious! The muffins only stay fresh for a couple of days in an alright container, so I froze most of them and plan to take them out of the freezer a few at a time when we want to eat them. They have been such a great snack or breakfast accompaniment when I’m craving something sweet.

When we baked the pumpkins to make the puree, we set the pumpkin seeds aside to clean and toast later for a healthy and tasty snack. Unfortunately, work and life got in the way. The pumpkin seeds sat in our fridge for too long and started to get a bit moldy. Thus, they ended up in the compost bin. I suppose that’s not a complete zero-waste failure because we composted the remains and they didn’t head to the landfill. But I wish we had made better use of all parts of the pumpkin to the extent that we could before tossing remnants into the compost. 

We are far from a perfect zero waste family and, honestly, we don’t even try to be perfect. It would be an unrealistic expectation for our family that would surely set us up for failure. As I share about our adventures in low waste living, I hope I encourage others to try zero waste practices where it makes sense in their lives and not create undue stress in an attempt to be perfect or fail proof. 

Whether you grow your own pumpkins and watch a small seed blossom into something beautiful or opt to use canned pumpkin puree from the store (no judgment), I hope you try these pumpkin cherry muffins with your family. If you do try them, let me know what you think and be sure to share and tag me in Instagram or Facebook. 

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