Upcycling Your Pumpkins

by Jenny Totten, Extension Agent

Now that the Halloween season is over, you might have an abundance of leftover pumpkins hanging out on your porch. Don’t throw them away; reuse them! There are several potential uses for those leftover pumpkins, whether you’ve turned them into spooky jack-o-lanterns or just simply used them as part of your fall landscaping.

Carved Pumpkins

A carved pumpkin may not work for a pumpkin pie, but our animal friends can still appreciate it as a seasonal – and nutritious – treat. Many area farms will take your carved pumpkins to feed their pigs. Additionally, you can chop your pumpkin into smaller pieces and feed the wildlife outside of your own windows. Squirrels, chipmunks and birds all love pumpkin.

If you have access to a compost area, you can also toss the whole pumpkin in or cut it into smaller pieces, and it will compost down with the rest of your scraps. If you have an abundance of pumpkins to compost, mix in some dry leaves or dried grass clippings to help the process along.

Full Pumpkins

If your pumpkins haven’t been carved and only used for decoration, the uses after Halloween multiply. The easiest thing to do is to simply leave the pumpkins out for the rest of the fall season! If you chose a healthy pumpkin from the get-go, it should last well into Thanksgiving week.

For a fun family activity, take the top off of the pumpkins and pull out all of the guts and seeds for a sensory play experience! Children love separating the seeds from the guts. Wash the seeds and place them on a baking sheet along with chosen spices and bake in an oven for 5 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Tasty combinations include cinnamon and sugar, garlic and sea salt, and rosemary with sea salt and pepper.

If the flesh is still intact, you can also use this in recipes calling for canned pumpkin. Simply carve the flesh off of the skin, place in a blender and puree for a preservative-free addition to your fall soups and sweets. The puree itself can also be frozen for later use.

Don’t be sad for your jack-o-lantern! With so many uses after the fall holidays have passed, you can easily make sure your pumpkins enjoy the rest of the season right along with you.

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