Essential for the holiday season, pumpkins are typically carved out for Halloween and Thanksgiving festivities, making for exciting decorations thanks to their perfect fall colors. While a pumpkin looks great on display, it’s far from a one-hit holiday wonder. Check out our seven fun and creative ideas for repurposing the pumpkin after its been carved.
1. Eat it!
You’ll be surprised how often you can use pumpkin in meals, so don’t toss it out so quickly. From pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie to pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread and cupcakes, the orange fruit (yes, pumpkin is a fruit!) is best used in the kitchen after carving. Get even more creative by using pumpkin for pastas, pudding and pumpkin French fries! Pumpkin butter (like apple butter) is a great spread for toast when used with spices like cinnamon and ginger.
2. Drink it!
Pumpkin is a popular, holiday-themed flavor in cocktails, and you can make your own pumpkin-spice liqueur using aged rum, sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon sticks, clove and vanilla beans. Use pumpkin for lattes and even create the perfect seasonal smoothie with pumpkin, adding milk, spices and honey or maple syrup to sweeten it.
3. Roast the seeds
Not only are pumpkin seeds chockfull of antioxidants like iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium, they’re also quite tasty and easy to make. After tossing with melted butter and salt, lay them on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes. You can eat them right out of the oven, add them to granola or brittle or use them for garnishes in soups, salads and deserts.
4. Have a spa day
Pumpkin works wonders for the skin (it’s packed with antioxidants and vitamins that promote anti-aging) and makes an excellent face mask you can whip up right at home. All you need is one pumpkin slice to puree, one egg and a teaspoon of organic honey, all mixed well together. You can also add lemon to help brighten the skin. Cool it in the fridge, then apply for 20 minutes for a gorgeous complexion.
5. Grow your own pumpkin patch
Pumpkin growing isn’t hard, and it’s fun for adults and children alike (who doesn’t love a pumpkin patch?). Plant three to five pumpkin seeds about an inch deep, and make sure the soil temperature is at least 65 F to germinate. Then watch the pumpkins grow for the next three months. Pumpkin seeds generally fare better in frost-free weather (May in northern climates and July in southern climates are optimal), so you can save the seeds to grow for next year if you missed the window.
6. Share the love
If pumpkin isn’t your favorite flavor, leave it in the yard for animals. Deer, birds and critters like squirrels love feasting on pumpkin leftovers! And kids love watching the animals nibble on the fruit, which makes a great photo. Best of all, the pumpkin will enrich your soil when it decays because it’s packed with nutrients.
7. Turn it into a boat
Disney may have turned Cinderella’s carriage into a pumpkin, but you can transform yours into a fun-sized boat. Pumpkins float exceptionally well on still water when hollowed out. Help decorate them in nautical themes with kids, and float them in a nearby lake or even the bathtub for some pumpkin-sailing fun.