Dear Proper Green: After Halloween, I’m going to have too much candy in my house. What can I do with it (other than eat it)? -Portia P.
There are a surprising number of great ways to get rid of your candy — so you can spare the landfill, and spare yourself a cavity. Here’s a 3-step sorting system that will help with perfect candy disposal:
1. Remove any candy with wrappers that aren’t intact.
Toss the candy; it’s not compostable. For the wrappers, you have two good choices: Gather them all and send to a mail-in recycling program like Terracycle’s, or toss them in the trash along with the candy (candy wrappers aren’t recyclable in curbside collection programs).
2. Separate what you like, from what you don’t.
Candy lasts a pretty long time, especially when frozen, so keep what you can to enjoy now or later. For the candy you don’t have a special sweet tooth for, or the extras you just don’t want hanging around the house, donate it! There are lots of programs that accept candy donations, like Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages to deployed U.S. service members, and some Boys & Girls Club and Ronald McDonald House locations. You can also check with local shelters and nursing homes to see if they’ll welcome donations.
3. Divide the remaining candy based on what you’d like to eat as-is, and what could be even better as something else.
Willy Wonka isn’t the only one who can do magical things with candy. Here are a few ideas for “recycling” candy into other foods:
Chocolate Bars: Melt them down to make a ganache that you can use on cakes, over ice cream, or for coating pretzels.
Hard Candies: Use a food processor to grind the hard candies into chunks to use as sprinkles, or into fine powders to add to cookie doughs, hot drinks, milk shakes, and more. Think mints in a chocolate cookie, butterscotch in a latte, and cinnamon in milk shake.
Chocolates: The chocolates that are filled with nougat, nuts, peanut butter, fluff, coconut, caramel, and the like are great when chopped up and used in other desserts. Add pieces to brownie batter, sprinkle on an iced cake, or even make a candy bark.
Anything that sticks around too long to be edible could still have potential as crafting material, especially given the upcoming holiday season. Licorice makes great roofing on a gingerbread house, some gummies and hard candies can be strung together as a garland, and any variety of wrapped candy can be glued together to make a sculpture, like this candy train.