10 Uses for Your Pumpkin

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What will you do with all those spooky jack-o-lanterns and festive centerpieces after Halloween has come and gone? Don’t toss them in the trash. Creative uses abound! Check out these 10 reuse ideas for your pumpkin, and start putting good ol’ Jack to work.

Photo: Flickr/DrBacchus

Before you get started

Before you start chopping up your pumpkin, take a moment to assess how it should be used. It’s not advisable to use carved jack-o-lanterns for food or personal hygiene applications, as the inner flesh may dry out, spoil or sour after sitting out for a day or two. The compost pile is usually your best bet for all your carvings.

Uncarved pumpkins can stay fresh for months depending on how they’re kept. But be careful with pumpkins that have been outside for a while. Be sure to check the exterior for mold, bruising and other defects before getting started. And if the skin feels soft or saggy, don’t use the pumpkin for food or beauty products. Check out some of the home décor alternatives on our list, or compost these babies instead.

Once your pumpkin passes the health-check, wash the exterior well with soap and warm water to remove any dirt or nontoxic paints, glues and markers you may have used for decoration. After you’ve cleaned it, it’s ready for reuse.

1. Basic pumpkin puree

Pumpkin puree is the most common use for the fleshy insides of your pumpkin, and it’s super easy to make. To get started, cut off the stem of your pumpkin and set it aside to be composted. Then, cut 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 a cup of water, and bake at 325 degrees for about 90 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Once your pumpkin softens up, just scoop out the flesh and puree it in a food processor.

Once you’ve whipped up your puree, use it in some of the applications on our list, or save it in the freezer for Thanksgiving pies. If kept in an airtight container, your puree can be stored in the freezer for several months – meaning you can nix that canned pumpkin for all your holiday desserts.

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