If you love carving pumpkins, odds are they look scarier now than they did on Halloween. Or maybe you keep a few uncarved gourds around your house for fall. But what to do with them when time’s up? For those without wooded backyards and deer aplenty, chucking the big orange busts out the backdoor is probably poor form, especially where neighbors are involved.
Check out these four useful, sustainable, and yummy ideas for how to dispose of and use your pumpkins to their maximum potential!
Many local farmer’s markets offer a compost program where they provide you a bucket to be filled with that week’s compostable food waste and you bring it back the following weekend. This is a great option for those who’ve hollowed out their Jack-O-Lantern and an excellent resource to use in general when produce goes bad in the house. Or you can toss it into your own compost pile. Compost helps soil breathe better, ensuring plants are healthy and vibrant.
Pumpkin as a Weight
You didn’t think we were going to leave out fitness, did you? An improvised workout with a household object is the best! You can’t help but smile when a big, orange orb is flying through the air towards your outstretched arms. Grab a pumpkin (make sure to cut off the stem!) and a partner for a few rounds of squat tosses. The partner who starts gets in squat formation with arms 90 degrees holding the pumpkin. They squat down slow and spring up at the same time they toss to the other partner, who catches as they go down slow; then spring, and repeat. When you get tired, see who can come up with the most inventive workout using your new pumpkin weight.
To appeal to our warrior families with teenagers, we’ve chosen a recently popular activity to inspire this next pumpkin improvisation. Heads up, this is for adults and it does involve a sharp object. Dress and zone appropriately. If you have a small ax or hatchet, delight your teen by suggesting you throw it at the pumpkins after briefing them on safety precautions. Paint a small bullseye on the upper-side facade of the pumpkin and stand the standard 12-15 ft back from the mark. To throw, hold the handle in the middle of the hatchet with the blade facing forward. Pull your bent arm overhead then throw forward straightening your arm as it falls. The best 8/10 gets the gold! An alternative to the supervision required for the hatchet toss, create a ring toss using the pumpkin as a post. Whoever constructs the most clever ring out of household material will have the ultimate advantage!
Pumpkin Seed FTW
Great in theory, but are pumpkin seeds worth the hassle of the pull, wash, dry that they require? With this recipe and method, we say, yes! Pumpkin seeds are nutrient superstars high in antioxidants, magnesium, and fiber. Replace your movie popcorn or pre-dinner chips with these and you’ll wish every season was pumpkin season. All you’ll need for this tasty recipe is melted butter (or oil of your choice—we’re sesame oil fans), salt and pepper, and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. Once you’ve detangled the seeds from the innards, place them in a colander under cold water to detach the remaining fibers from the seeds. After rinsing, lay the seeds on a towel and pat them dry. Place them into a bowl and add all the seasoning, making sure every seed is nice and coated. Place the seeds on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 200 degrees. Stir the seeds from time to time so none get caught in a hot spot; for an additional 5 minutes, bake on 350 for a crunch-causing zap. Enjoy!
Bonus Round: Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Making fresh pumpkin pie is not a small feat, but think of the pride you’ll feel in taking a vegetable to its perfect final form: a pie.
Just don’t use your old Halloween pumpkin for this one. You’ll need to buy a pumpkin that’s made for cooking, not carving (like a “sugar pie pumpkin”).
To make pumpkin purée from scratch, cut a medium-small pumpkin in half. Scrape out the insides and set aside to compost or make seeds from! Line a baking sheet with foil and place the pumpkin halves cut side down on the lined baking sheet to bake at 350°F for about an hour to an hour and a half. Remove from oven, let cool, scoop out the insides.
For the rest of the pie, here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 large eggs plus the yolk of a third egg
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 cups pumpkin pulp purée
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream or one 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
- 1 pie crust
Beat the eggs in a large bowl as you mix in the brown sugar, white sugar, salt, spices: cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, cardamom, and lemon zest. Throw in the pumpkin purée and cream then beat together until everything is well mixed! Pour this mixture into your favorite pie crust and bake for 15 minutes at 45 degrees. After that time is up, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 50 more minutes. Do the jiggle test; if the knife is clean, serve! Enjoy with smiles and hopefully heaps of whipped cream.