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Make the Most of Your Pumpkin

October is the season of chilly autumn breezes, crunchy leaves and pumpkins resting on every doorstep. Rather than discarding each segment of pumpkin, consider reusing and recycling this multi-purpose vegetable.

Jack o Lantern illustration.

When carving your Jack-o’-Lantern, scoop the seeds into a colander, removing as many of the stringy pulp as possible in the process. Once removed, rinse in cool water and spread the seeds onto a towel to blot them dry. Spread them on a cookie sheet and get creative with seasoning these tasty snacks.

Olive oil, salt and pepper are traditional, but consider adding a pinch of cayenne pepper for a kick, or for a completely different spin use butter, nutmeg, and cinnamon. No matter how you season them, roast them at 325 degrees for around 20 minutes and you will have a great seasonal snack or salad topping.

Image of young family carving pumpkins.

The stringy pulp that you scoop out of the pumpkin makes a great addition to the compost pile, while the more firm white flesh can be used for cooking and baking. If you are not in the mood to whip up food in the middle of carving pumpkins, the flesh will stay fresh, covered in the refrigerator for two or three days. Pumpkins (and pumpkin seeds) are loaded with nutrition such as vitamin A, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids.

Shredded flesh can be used creatively in many recipes, not just ‘pumpkin’ food. Sneak a couple of tablespoons into some brownies, banana bread, cookies or almost any sweet treat that is baked in the oven. If you enjoy a more savory flavor, small pumpkin pieces can be added to stews and soups. A pumpkin is 90% water and when cooked, will naturally absorb surrounding flavors.

After Halloween has passed, do you throw your Jack-o-Lantern into the garbage can or do you have a different use for the poor guy? Here are some ideas for that old Jack-o-Lantern to keep him out of the landfill, and get full use out of your decorative investment.

Feed the Jack-o’-Lantern to the birds. Even chickens enjoy this hearty vegetable as a treat. It is best to break down the pumpkin rind or skin first so the birds have an easier time pecking at it for food. This can be accomplished quickly and easily by a hammer, or even tossing into the air and letting the pieces break apart on the ground naturally.

Compost. Since pumpkins are so nutrient rich, they make an ideal addition to the compost pile. If you do not have a compost pile, you can bury them straight into the ground. As they decompose they will fill your soil with goodness.

Most farm and zoo animals love pumpkins. Consider donating to a local farm or asking permission to feed the animals.

Have fun with the season, and remember to make the most of your pumpkin investment!

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