Halloween is over, at least in the official sense, anyway. There is a possibility that many of you had Halloween parties over the weekend and we are all for that, of course. If we had our way, however, the world would be dressed up in costume every single day because that’s just the way we think in these parts. In any case, we hope you had lots of Halloween fun, as that is the point and what Halloween is all about.
For those of us that now will file Halloween 2013 away in our memory banks and move on--here’s a few tips on what to do with those obsolete pumpkins you may have lying around your house.
Once your pumpkin has been carved and sitting around for over 24 hours, it’s no longer safe to eat so do not be tempted to use it for any food creations. There are however, a few ideas that don’t involve food or eating your pumpkin that will impart a little more longevity into your blessed gourdly creation. If you have un-carved pumpkins, any of these suggestions will work for you.
- Pumpkin Puree: Most people buy pumpkin puree in cans at the grocery store and use this to make pies, pumpkin breads and other festive fall treats. Making pumpkin puree is not that hard or complicated, so why not give it a try? Use only a previously un-carved pumpkin for this project. Cut your pumpkin down the middle and then scoop out all the seeds and slimy guts. Set the seeds aside for later. Place your pumpkin, cut side down in a baking dish with about a cup of water and bake at 350 degrees for about 90 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Scoop out the flesh and put it into a food processor and puree. Wa-la! Now you have fresh pumpkin puree that is all ready to use in your favorite pumpkin recipes. This puree can be frozen for several months so if you want to use this for Thanksgiving pies, stash this now in a freezer-safe container.
- Make a Pumpkin Planter: This is a great idea for your carved pumpkin or an un-carved one will work as well. Buy some annual flowers from your local nursery and use your pumpkin as the planter! You can use the “not carved” side to face the front if you don’t want a Jack o Lantern look to your planter. The pumpkin will naturally compost and provide fertilizer to your plants. If you are using an un-carved pumpkin, you are going to need to disembowel the pumpkin (meaning take out the seeds and slimy guts) before you can plant flowers in it. These pumpkin planters can go straight into the ground, or (my suggestion) leave them on the porch for a few days first as a decoration and then plant them in the ground. Hopefully your weather is not so cold that planting things is not practical. If you haven’t had your first frost, you should be good to go.
- Pumpkin Facial: Now here’s a pumpkin-headed idea! Pumpkins are loaded with zinc, along with vitamins A, C and E. Pumpkin is healthy to eat of course, but it can also do wonders for your skin! Create a facial mask with some pumpkin puree and you too can be pumpkin pretty! Take 5 teaspoons of pumpkin puree; add three teaspoons of brown sugar (a natural exfoliant) and a small splash of milk. Mix this all together and apply to your face in a circular motion, but keep it away from your eyes and eye area. Leave your pumpkin mask on for twenty minutes; relax and enjoy your post-Halloween self-indulgence. Rinse off the pumpkin mask with clear water when you are finished.
- Pumpkin Seeds: Remember those pumpkin seeds I told you to save? Now’s the time to make a delicious, classic (and healthy) snack from them. First you must separate all the seeds from the guts of the pumpkin. This is a slimy, messy task so get your kids to do it if at all possible. J Rinse the seeds well and get rid of the slimy residue. Spread the seeds out in a single layer on a baking sheet greased with olive oil. Stir the seeds around so they get coated with a little of the oil. For a traditional pumpkin seed snack add salt and bake them in a 400-degree oven. Pumpkin seeds cook at different rates depending on how many there are and how large they are, so watch them closely. The cooking time can vary from about 10-20 minutes. Enjoy!
Long live the pumpkin! May you get just a little more enjoyment out of yours.