Top 6 Things To Do With Pumpkins Other Than Carve Them
It almost goes without saying: Halloween is the pumpkin farmers time in the spotlight. If any one thing is synonymous with the October holiday it would be a big, bright-orange jack-o'-lantern. As widely-celebrated as Halloween is, it seems like most families have at least one (or more) of these orbs somewhere in their house. While it's uncertain when the tradition of carving pumpkins for Halloween first started, it's become a per-requisite to the celebration.
Besides making jack-o'-lanterns out them for Halloween, what else can you do with pumpkins? As festive as they can be, pumpkins weren't put on this Earth simply to be drawn on and carved up as a decoration. Pumpkins are part of the squash family of vegetables; as such, they are a nutritious source of vitamins and fiber.
Here is a list of the Top 6 Things To Do With Pumpkins other than Carving Them!
As obvious as this item is, some people are removed enough from the food they eat that they never think to cook with an actual pumpkin. Yes, the pureed pumpkin you buy in cans is usable in your recipes - but the actual pumpkin is very usable in your cuisine.
To substitute raw pumpkin in place of a canned puree, you need to do a little prep in advance of using it. Wash off the outside of your pumpkin. Then, cut it in half. Remove the seeds and "guts". Place each half cut-side down on a half-sheet pan and bake at 350 for about two hours. (Actual baking time will vary depending on the size of your pumpkin squash). Afterwards, let it cool and and scrape the cooked flesh out of the pumpkin. Mash the flesh - or pulverize it in a food processor. The finished product is exactly the same as the canned product you're probably used to buying.
So what do you do with the pumpkin puree?
Probably the most-popular food items to make with pumpkin puree is pies and breads. However, there are many recipes for cookies and muffins. I also utilize the pumpkin puree as a filling for homemade ravioli - paired with a cream sauce. You could also make pumpkin soup. In both of these last examples, think savory more than sweet and treat your pumpkin like the squash that it really is.
A new recipe that I recently encountered (and want to try sometime soon) is for pumpkin smoothies. This recipe is as simple as combining frozen pumpkin puree with vanilla yogurt, milk, and spices.
As popular as food items are as the basis for health and beauty items, using pumpkin should come as no surprise. Just like cucumbers, honey, and nuts - pumpkin offers benefits for healthier skin.
There are two ways to use pumpkin as a topical: One is as a face mask; this simple recipe gives good instructions on how you can make your own pumpkin face mask at home. A second way to work pumpkin into your daily skin routine is to make a body scrub. This can simply be made with pumpkin puree and brown sugar or, you can follow this recipe for a "smellier" version.
Pumpkins are an excellent source of nutrients for your household pets - even lifestock. Many veterinarians suggest feeding pumpkin to dogs and cats that are having digestive problems; the fiber count helps to alleviate that. It can even help maintain their weight and many pets prefer the vegetable to dry food.
Pumpkin is useful around the farm, too if you have poultry or livestock. Pumpkin is a good source of energy and protein for cattle and it can help maintain egg production in the colder winter months.
If you want to grow pumpkins next year it's important to save the seeds from this years crop. Scoop them out and dry them well before storing them away. Dried pumpkin seeds remain viable for at least six years - although there is no magic time-clock as to when they'll stop germinating.
(Yes, you could simply buy pumpkin seeds from a store - but that's no fun)
If you have leftover pumpkins (or - even leftover jack-o'-lanterns) you can turn them into fertilizer for your garden or flower bed. The easiest way to do this is to chop the pumpkin up into pieces and add to your compost pile. However - lacking a compost pile - you could shred the pumpkin up into small pieces and spread over the soil you want to fertilize, mixing it in afterwards.
What else can you do with pumpkins? Your imagination is the only limit. Small pumpkins would make seasonal paperweights. Larger varieties could be used as a door stop.
It would take an investment in time and materials but you could build a "pumpkin canon"; I've recently seen these sort of setups at farms that feature pumpkin patches and corn mazes. The basic equipment includes an air compressor attached to a large cannon-style barrel.