Who doesn’t love picking out that perfect pumpkin in the patch for carving? Enter the warm apple cider, family giggles and kids bursting with ideas and creativity and you’ve got yourself one fun fall activity.
But – what happens when the trick or treating is done and it’s time for those pumpkins to be replaced by dare we say it – snowmen and reindeer?
Re-purposing pumpkins is not only a great way to get the most bang for your pumpkin patch buck (and who doesn’t need a little extra cash for the holidays?) and while recycling is a great way to be economical, it is also an amazing way to embrace the environmental.
Here are our favorite ways to stretch those pumpkins as far as possible!
Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin puree is nothing if not versatile. It can be used to make several delicious seasonal dishes such as soups, breads, muffins and can even be put into freezer bags, flattened and frozen for future use. In addition, what better way to tap into your inner Susie Homemaker by using your own pumpkin puree for your Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving?
Bonus: It’s SUPER easy to make!
According to AllRecipes.com, it’s as easy as:
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Cut the pumpkin in half, stem to base. Remove seeds and pulp. Cover each half with foil. Bake in the preheated oven, foil side up, 1 hour, or until tender. Scrape pumpkin meat from shell halves and puree in a blender. Strain to remove any remaining stringy pieces. Store in the freezer in freezer safe bags.
If you really want to save time and clean up, you can also do this in a slow cooker with a liner.
Make A Pumpkin Spice Latte
While we love the idea of long lines and spending $5 for our daily caffeine fix, why not use that pumpkin puree to make your own PSL?
Here is an “easy-as-pie” (pun totally intended) recipe for a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte, according to The Food Network:
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons pure pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot espresso or strong brewed coffee
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving
Directions: Combine the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in a medium microwave safe bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and vent with a small hole. Microwave until the milk is hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk vigorously until the milk mixture is foamy, about 30 seconds. Pour the espresso or coffee into a large mug and add the foamed milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
Use Pumpkins as Serving Bowls
If you have ever hosted a family holiday, you know that there is never enough room in the dishwasher and usually too many people napping after Turkey to help get the dishes cleaned. We are here to offer just a tiny bit of help (and save you money on decorations!)
Easily cut those tops off and fill with dips, soups or pumpkin bread. They look great, too!
Transform those Pumpkins into Planters
If you are anything like (some of) us, you want to make fall decorations last as long as possible.
Cut the top off of the pumpkin and fill with a potted plant. This not only looks super festive but it will last for weeks, make your neighbors take a second glance at your awesome aesthetics and can ultimately be planted in the garden to decompose.
According to the International Dermal Institute, the benefits of pumpkin on the skin are undeniable.
The IDI says:
“Pumpkin is packed with fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which increase cell turnover, to brighten and smooth the skin.
Pumpkin contains antioxidant Vitamin A and Vitamin C to help soften and soothe the skin and boost collagen production to prevent the signs of aging.
Zinc in pumpkin seeds is brilliant for acne sufferers. Zinc will help control the hormone level and oil production, as well as assist with healing of the skin.
Pumpkin seeds are high in essential fatty acids and Vitamin E, which are necessary to maintain good barrier function of the skin. They also regulate sebum, great for an oily skin.
The molecular structure of pumpkin is small and therefore can penetrate deeper into the skin when used topically. This is amazing for treating a dull complexion, aging skin and pigmentation.”
With this information, how can you not want to sprint to the bathroom and get that pumpkin on your face?
Check out these recipes from Woman’s World for pumpkin facials to combat common skin problems:
Hydrate and Soften Skin:
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbs. honey
Start by: Mashing ingredients together with wooden spoon until mixture becomes paste-like. Using your fingertips, smooth mask onto clean, damp skin, avoiding eye area. Relax 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse well with warm water; pat dry.
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. ground coffee
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
Start by: Combining pumpkin, sugar, coffee and ginger in bowl. “Ginger is an anti-inflammatory that fights off free radicals that can dull your skin,” Padgett says. Mash ingredients together with wooden spoon until well mixed. Using your fingertips, gently massage the pumpkin scrub into wet skin. Begin with your face, then move down to your neck and chest. Use small, circular motions to massage scrub for one to two minutes. When finished, rinse well with lukewarm water. Pat dry.
Erase Fine Lines
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup fresh papaya, mashed
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. honey
Start by: Combining pumpkin, papaya, vinegar and honey in blender. Blitz until creamy; pour mixture into bowl. Using your fingers, smooth treatment over clean, dry skin, avoiding the eye area. Relax for 10 minutes. When finished, rinse well with warm water and apply your favorite anti-aging moisturizer.
With fire pit season upon us and the amount of holiday parties stacking up on your calendar, why not be the one that puts on a twist on a seasonal cocktail? Pumpkin cocktails can be full of spice, super rich and warm party guests up on chilly days.
We LOVE this Pumpkin Old Fashioned Recipe from The Spruce Eats:
1 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1-ounce maple syrup
Orange peel twist or rosemary sprig for garnish
Steps to Make It
Combine pumpkin puree, bourbon, syrup, Grand Marnier and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice., Shake well and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a chilled old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice., Garnish with a rosemary sprig or orange peel.
Last But Not Least – Compost, Baby!
Is there any longer lasting way to get the extra use out of that pumpkin than to re-purpose it to fertilize your garden next year? Simply cut pumpkin into small pieces, add to your compost pile and throw it into your garden soil in the Spring!
For other fall DIY projects and crafts to do with kids – check out more of our Fall Science projects here!