Fog is in the air… and gourds are in the field! But during Halloween season, what else can you do with them? Back in college, we actually stuck the other end of our cable cord into one and improved our TV reception for a while (until it finally rotted, around the next June). While I may not recommend using it to get extra channels, there are many other things to do with pumpkins!
Whether you’re taking advantage of pre-halloween sales, or wondering what to do when the holiday has passed, here are 10 things to do with your Halloween pumpkin:
1. Pumpkin puree: Puree is as easy as it gets, just processed roasted pumpkin with no other ingredients (here’s an easy recipe). But it’s what you do with the puree that can spice up the whole season. Add a few tablespoons (and some milk, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg) to your coffee for a homemade pumpkin latte, blend a few tablespoons with some frozen yogurt for a healthy pumpkin shake, or even try out one of these delicious-sounding pumpkin cocktails.
2. Roast the seeds: Save the seeds while carving, separating them from the pumpkin guts and rinsing well. Then coat lightly with oil, salt and pepper, or any other seasonings you desire (chili powder? cumin? garlic?) and spread into a thin layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at low temperature for just a few minutes, checking frequently, until you start to hear popping. Eat over salad, by the handful, or grind them up into baked goods.
3. Wear it: All that beta-carotene is good for the outside too! If there’s any puree left from number one that you haven’t scarfed down yet, whip up this pumpkin body butter from puree and coconut milk, or this cinnamon sugar pumpkin scrub.
4. Thanksgiving arts and crafts: Have a pumpkin-decorating competition at Thanksgiving using paints, instead of carving. If you’re having kids come, let them decorate small/mini pumpkins as place cards around the table.
5. Vase or planter: Cut the top off the pumpkin and hollow out seeds and guts. For a vase, insert a tin can or glass jar into the pumpkin and fill with water before arranging fall flowers inside. For a planter, fill with dirt and transfer flowers or herbs into the pumpkin directly. You can either move them again when the pumpkin decays, or dig a hole large enough to plant the entire pumpkin in the ground, where it will compost and feed your plants from underground!
6. Seasonal punchbowl: Cut off the top of a large pumpkin and hollow out the insides immediately before your party starts (to avoid the pumpkin going bad prior to being in contact with your beverages). You can decorate with paints prior to carving, and add dry ice for a spooky touch!
7. Get creative in the kitchen: Everybody knows pumpkin pie and pumpkin butter are good ways to get at the beta carotene and antioxidants… but some other yummy uses include using the guts (with other veggie scraps) in pumpkin stock, or making pumpkin gnocci, pumpkin hummus, and even these pumpkin twinkies. Since they will start to go bad about a day after being cut/opened, it’s recommended to use whole (not previously carved) pumpkins for food after Halloween.
8. Pumpkin bowling: Another family Thanksgiving post-dinner favorite. Work off that turkey by setting up piles of leaves or snow in the backyard and taking turns hurling pumpkins for points.
9. Weight lifting: A little unconventional, but Chris Barnes at the HuffPo blog suggests using pumpkins as a seasonal medicine ball for lifting, carrying, or even tossing to your workout partner.
10. Feed wildlife: Many animals are just as fond of eating pumpkin treats as humans. If you live in a wooded area, you can leave pieces of pumpkin out (away from the house) for deer, or seeds for birds, however you run the risk of bringing critters (raccoons, squirrels) close to your house that you may prefer to keep away. Here Joann Brokaw shares a great idea about checking with local wildlife rescue organizations to see if they may want donations of your used pumpkins (carved pumpkins included). You can also check with your local zoo; I remember watching the hippos eat pumpkins every fall at the Woodland Park Zoo growing up.
Just want to carve? Here are 21 pumpkin carving ideas.
What are you going to do with your pumpkins this year?