October is the unofficial month of pumpkins and many of us have at least one (likely more) scattered around the yard and house. But come November 1st, many of these pumpkins wind up at the curb.
This year, extend the life, and value, of your pumpkins by using them to their full potential! Here, we’ve outlined several ways to get more out of your gourds.
Save the Seeds
A delicious snack, roasted pumpkin seeds are also really easy to make:
Pull out the seeds and run them under cold water in a sieve, then leave them to dry.
Once dry, drizzle with a bit of vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt.
Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes, stirring once around the ten minute mark.
Pumpkins are also surprisingly easy to grow, so set a few seeds aside for planting and grow your own gourds for next year!
Strings to Stock
Those slippery strings surrounding the seeds can seem kind of icky, but they make a great pumpkin stock! You’ve surely already separated the seeds to roast, now take those strings and put them in a pot with water. For extra flavour add carrots or celery and bring to a boil. Let simmer for at least half an hour, or until the water begins to change colour. Then strain your stock, saving the broth and composting the rest.
Never had pumpkin stock before? Well, it makes a wonderful addition to soups, stews and casseroles and can be frozen for use at a later date.
A fantastic pantry staple, pumpkin puree is surprisingly easy to make and can be used for everything from soups to pancakes to pies.
Remove stem and cut the pumpkin down the middle
Clean out the “guts”
Place cut-side down in a baking dish with about a cup of water
Bake at 325° for 60-90 minutes – you will know it is done when the flesh is tender
Scoop out flesh and puree in a blender
Mask of Pumpkin
Did you know that pumpkin is actually great for the skin? Take some of that puree you just made and set it aside to make face masks. All you need to do is mix 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree with a splash of milk and 1-2 teaspoons of brown sugar, massage over your face and leave on for 20 minutes, then remove with a warm, wet wash cloth.
Once a pumpkin has been carved and sat out for more than 24 hours, they are not considered safe for humans to consume. However, there are still plenty of great uses for these creations:
Donate them to a farm. Pigs, ducks, sheep, chickens and turkeys all love pumpkins!
Turn your carved pumpkin into a bird feeder. This is a great craft to do with the kids and if you have extra pumpkin seeds you don’t feel like roasting, know that the birds will find them to be a lovely treat as well as any bird seed.
Make a planter – transfer your favourite fall flowers right into the hollowed-out pumpkin and plant in your garden. As the pumpkin composts it will add beneficial nutrients to the soil and plants.