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Recycle Pumpkins After Fall

I love Fall colors and all the festive pumpkins and gourds. But as soon as Halloween and Thanksgiving are over, we exchange our fall colors for Christmas reds and green.  Out with the orange and gold. . . but what about the still fresh pumpkins?  It’s such a shame to throw them away.  But what can you do with all those carved-up jack-o-lanterns and festive centerpieces? 
Here are a few suggestions for you…
You’ve already shelled out the cash, love and labor for your pumpkin, so there’s no reason to throw it out when creative uses abound. Because the pumpkin is tasty, many of these tips involve food. But keep in mind that these food applications are best used for uncarved pumpkins. Once a pumpkin has been carved and has sat out for more than 24 hours, it could be unsafe to eat. But don’t despair, dear pumpkin lover  Here are a few tips for your spooky carvings.
Pumpkin Purée
The No. 1 use for the fleshy insides of your pumpkin, and it’s super easy to make. Start by cutting your pumpkin down the middle. Scoop out the seeds and guts, and set them aside for later. Place your pumpkin cut-side down in a baking dish with about a cup of water, and bake for about 90 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Then, simply scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor. Once you’ve made your pumpkin purée, it’s ready for use in all your favorite pumpkin recipes, from pies to pancakes. Any extra can be stored in the freezer for several months, which means you can ditch all that canned pumpkin when Thanksgiving comes around.
Make A Pumpkin Planter
This is a great use for a carved or un-carved pumpkin - anything that adds a little natural beauty to the yard is a win to us. Head down to your local nursery, pick up some annuals, and use your pumpkin as the planter!  It will be a festive decoration for a few days, and then you can plant the whole thing right in the backyard. The pumpkin will naturally compost and provide fertilizer for your plant. If your pumpkin is un-carved, cut off the top and remove the seeds, guts and flesh from inside. Set them aside and save for later (if you have a carved pumpkin, skip this step). Simply pack some potting soil into your pumpkin until it is about one-third full. You may need to do some extra packing to keep the soil from falling out of your jack-o-lantern’s face. Place your plant into the pumpkin,and fill it out with more potting soil. You can dig a small hole and plant the whole thing right away, or leave it on the porch for a few days for decoration.  Depending on where you call home, it may be a little chilly for planting. But if you haven’t seen your first frost, give this one a whirl.
Get Pumpkin Pretty
Pumpkins are rich in zinc and vitamins A, C and E, which makes pumpkin purée healthy for your body if you eat it and healthy to apply to the skin. That’s why one of the prettiest uses for the pumpkin is for a face mask. Start with about five teaspoons of pumpkin purée, add three teaspoons of brown sugar – which will naturally exfoliate your skin –and a tiny splash of milk. Mix it all together, and apply to your face in circular motions, avoiding the eye area. Relax for up to 20 minutes and allow all that pumpkin goodness to seep into your skin. Bonus: it smells yummy, too!
Create A Classic Pumpkin Seed Dish
Roasted pumpkin seeds are a tasty fall favorite, and there are plenty of ways to use them this November. After you’ve separated the seeds from the guts and rinsed them throughly, place them in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Stir them around to coat them with oil. From here, you can go almost anywhere with your pumpkin seeds. Add a little salt for classic roasted pumpkin seeds, or add some brown sugar and cinnamon for a sweeter treat. Roasted pumpkin seeds also make a tasty and crunchy outer layer for your candied apples, and they go great in brownies and other baked goods. But if Halloween has left you with a sugar crash, your roasted pumpkin seeds will make delicious garnishes for salads, too.

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