pumpkins

Pumpkins ready to be used to make snacks after the Halloween holiday has passed.

 

October is almost over and Halloween is about to pass, but the pumpkins will still be around. 

There’s a lot you can do with leftover pumpkins; pumpkins are squash and can be used like most other squash. They can be roasted and pieces served with a little butter and maple syrup; or pureed they make great pies, bread and cookies. For cooking you’ll want the round pumpkins a little smaller than a softball. They may be labeled sugar or pie pumpkins. The large pumpkins that have been carved or just sitting on the porch won’t be good for cooking. 

Start by cutting the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and pulp.

Save the seeds. Roasted and with a little salt they make a great snack. You can use the seeds from the carving-size pumpkins for this. Scoop the seeds out and pull off the strings. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet with a little salt. Toast until they are lightly brown. You’ll probably want to shell the large seeds, but small seeds can be eaten whole. 

To use the pumpkin flesh, roast the halves in the oven, this usually takes about 45 minutes. When cool, scoop out the flesh. This can be pureed in a food processor or blender or even use a potato masher. 

How much do you use? Look up recipes for pies, bread and other goodies and it will give amounts. 

If you’ve got some left over, it can go in the freezer for later use. 

Why go to all this trouble? Those who use the home-prepared pumpkin say it has a bright, fresh taste that’s way better than canned pumpkin. 

Leftover pumpkins can also provide a treat for neighborhood animals. Just bust them up and put them in a wooded area near you. Birds and other critters love them. Or give them to a friend with chickens. They make a great poultry treat. 

Our church pumpkin patch sells the leftovers to a farmer who feeds them to his goats and pigs. 

A teacher friend used a pumpkin for a long-term science lesson. The students put the pumpkin in a large pan and weighed it. It then went outside. They watched as the pumpkin rotted, noting how long it took and the by-products. (It smells!) They also weighed it to watch the change...a math and science lesson rolled into one! Kids, of course, loved watching the gooey mess. 

For next year, think about planting different-sized pumpkins. While the Jack-O-Lantern seeds catch the eye, there are probably several varieties pumpkins next to them that can be used for pies.

If you have a empty spot and are brave, just throw busted leftovers in an empty corner and see what comes up next year. 

Gardening help is available from Kaufman County Master Gardeners at kcmga.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/kcmga.

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