Five tasty treats to make with your jack-o’-lantern leftovers

Five tasty treats to make with your jack-o’-lantern leftovers

We associate pumpkins with Halloween decorations so strongly that we might not be aware that what we’re carving out is a nutritious gourd, as well. But with a little planning, we can use the trimmings to make tasty meals and treats. You can even reuse the whole pumpkin once Halloween is over (if it’s just been a day or two since the pumpkin was carved and it wasn’t left outdoors).

Choosing a pumpkin
Pumpkins sold to be made into jack-o’-lanterns do not cook well. Choose sugar pumpkins (which are much smaller) if you want to use them for cooking. These will still make good jack-o’-lanterns—just smaller ones.

Salvaging the Pumpkin
There are two things you’re after when you harvest the edible parts of a pumpkin: the seeds and the white flesh just inside the skin. Make sure you start out by washing the pumpkin and ridding it of all dirt and debris.

Start by cutting out the top and stem, scooping out all the fibrous tissue and the seeds from inside and placing everything into a large bowl. Submerge the fibers and seeds in a few inches of water. Break away as much of the fiber from the seeds as possible by agitating the goop with a spoon, and soon the seeds will rise to the top of the bowl and the fibers will fall to the bottom. Skim off the seeds and set them aside.

All the pieces cut out of a pumpkin can be either baked or made into a puree.

To make a puree, cut the white flesh away from the skin of your pumpkin castaway, put the flesh into a pot of boiling water and boil it for about 15 minutes to 30 minutes, until the pieces are fork-tender. Then drain the pot, let the flesh cool for an hour and puree the soft pieces in a food processor. Use the puree in pumpkin pie recipes, soups, cakes—you name it. It’s better than the puree you get in a can.

To bake the pumpkin, simply place the pumpkin pieces, skin and all, on a baking dish and bake in an oven at 350 degrees for an hour or two, just until the flesh is tender. Once baked, the pieces need to cool, and then the flesh will slide off the skin. These pieces of baked pumpkin flesh may then be pureed in a food processor or used in recipes.

Once you have the edible parts of a pumpkin ready, here’s what you can do with them.

Pepitas: Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious, packed with magnesium, phosphorous and other minerals we just don’t get a lot of otherwise. Pepitas are simply baked pumpkin seeds, spiced up a little for flavor. This recipe will show you how easy it is to make them.

Pumpkin Pie: Once Halloween is over, the holiday season is around the corner. If you’ve never made a pumpkin pie before, you may think it’s a complicated task, but here’s a recipe that just requires a blender or a food processor, a few ingredients and a pre-made pie crust. Prep time is only about 5 minutes.

Pumpkin Muffins: This recipe will help you make all that pumpkin puree you’ve just saved into sweet and indulgent pumpkin muffins.

Cream of Pumpkin Soup: If you’ve never tried pumpkin soup, you’ll wonder why after you’ve tasted this recipe, which requires plenty of pumpkin puree.

Spicy Roast Pumpkin: Akin to sweet potato fries, spicy roast pumpkin is a great way to use all the pieces carved out of a jack-o’-lantern. There’s so much more to do with pumpkins than carving them or making pies, and this recipe proves it.