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Nothing quite says “fall is here!” like seeing the season’s first big bins full of fresh pumpkins at the local store. They’re synonymous with autumn’s holidays — jack-o-lanterns for Halloween and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, while the pumpkin may be popular in fall, it tends to end up being used for the same decorations and meals over and over. Nothing can beat carving pumpkins with the family or indulging in a freshly baked pumpkin pie, but there is a whole lot more you can do.
Here are 10 unique ways you can use the fresh pumpkin in your home this season.
1. Roast your pumpkin seeds
If you are a fan of sunflower seeds and nuts, you are missing out by tossing your pumpkin seeds in the compost. All you need to do is clean off the seeds, toss them in a bag or bowl with some melted butter, place them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with some of your favorite seasoning and bake for 45 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. They are done when golden brown in color.
2. Make your own fresh pumpkin puree
Canned pumpkin puree can sometimes be loaded with sugars, preservatives and other ingredients you may not want to be consuming. Fresh pumpkin puree is easy to make and will blow store-bought puree out of the water in terms of taste.
I highly recommend a recipe by The Pioneer Woman (click here). She freezes her pumpkin puree for storage but some people choose to can it for preservation. HOWEVER, canning pumpkin products is not recommended by the NCHFP. I know some people who can and use their pumpkin without issue, but please do your own research on the topic.
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3. Indulge in pumpkin pancakes
Create a seasonally appropriate breakfast spread by cooking some fresh pumpkin pancakes. This recipe is similar to most pancake recipes so it will be easy to make. Add some pumpkin butter and/or homemade whipped cream to top it off.
4. Create a pumpkin chowder
Pumpkin soup is delicious and easy, but why not beef it up by making a chowder instead? I love chowders because they are so much heartier and filling than a thin soup. These recipes will surely fill your belly and warm you up on those chilly fall evenings.
Don’t forget that you can make extra when you make these chowders so you can freeze them in portion sizes for future meals.
5. Treat your livestock and pets
If you are an animal lover, don’t exclude your furry friends from indulging in nutritious and delicious pumpkin. You can chop up whole fresh pumpkin to give to livestock or give the fleshy guts to them instead of tossing it. Just don’t give them too much as it is rich and could cause an upset stomach.
Fido can also enjoy leftover pumpkin. If your pooch doesn’t have a peanut allergy, this easy three-ingredient recipe is quick to make. Simply mix a half cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of pumpkin puree and 1 ¾ cups of whole wheat or brown rice flour. Roll it out, cut out your shapes and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 minutes.
6. Use a pumpkin as a serving dish
Bread bowls for soup are a wonderful idea, but did you know you can use pumpkin as a serving dish as well? You will need a nice, round pumpkin (small to medium in size) that will of course sit up on its own. Cut the top off like a jack-o-lantern and scoop out the insides. Place the pumpkin and the “lid” flesh side up on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for roughly 30-45 minutes. Once done, simply fill it with your soup, Thanksgiving stuffing or any other warm, savory meal.
7. Make fresh pumpkin butter
Almond butter and apple butter can step aside this fall. Make some pumpkin butter instead. This recipe is super easy and tasty. I would substitute the canned puree for the homemade one mentioned earlier as well as reduce the sugar and use brown sugar instead. This butter would be great on toast, pancakes or cake. It would also be a great homemade gift for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
8. Make pumpkin seed brittle
Another sweet pumpkin treat perfect for a Halloween or Thanksgiving party is pumpkin seed brittle. Making brittle isn’t exactly easy like baking a batch of cookies, but if you have some experiencing with caramelizing sugar, it should be a breeze. This Pumpkin Seed Brittle recipe will turn out perfectly sweet and salty.
9. Make pumpkin body products
Fresh pumpkin isn’t just good for the inside of your body but also does wonders on the outside. Ladies, you can use pumpkin as a body care product in the form of face masks, lotions, exfoliants, etc.
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These recipes are a nice indulgence, but don’t forget about Christmas! Package them in airtight containers, add some decorations along with a tag with directions on use and you have wonderful handmade gifts or stocking stuffers for the women in your life.
10. Use carving-free pumpkin decorating ideas
Last but not least, you can keep your Halloween decorations around for longer or even use them in some recipes after a few weeks of being out but not carving them. Check out some unique pumpkin designs for Halloween and Thanksgiving that don’t require carving.