8 Ways to Reuse, Eat, and Craft with Pumpkins This Fall–Beyond Carving
Creative ideas for using up pumpkins, from eating to decorating
Throughout the fall, your bounty of pumpkins may leave you with more than you know what to do with.
After you've done your fill of jack-o’-lantern carving, made your pumpkin bread, and baked your pumpkin pies, try out these fresh, creative, ways to keep fall's favorite edible gourd from going to waste.
1. Bake Pumpkin Crisps
You may already be cooking pumpkin flesh, but did you know you can also eat pumpkin skin? Here’s an easy recipe for crunchy, savory pumpkin crisps: Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the skin off a pumpkin, and then into thin slices. Toss the slices in a big bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Place the skins on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them at 220 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes. You’ll have a wonderful taste of autumn in the form of scrumptious chips.
2. Add Pumpkin to Soups and Stews
Pumpkin lends great flavor to soups and stews, and it can enhance a recipe you may already make regularly. The next time you cook chili, throw in fresh pumpkin, cut into 1-inch cubes. You can also replace potatoes for pumpkin in your beef stew or puree pumpkin to make a satisfying, savory pumpkin soup.
To bring out the gourd’s subtle sweetness, add a pinch of cinnamon too. For a festive presentation, hollow out small pumpkin halves, and serve the soup in them.
3. Spice Up Pumpkin Seeds
Fall wouldn’t be complete without handfuls of delicious pumpkin seeds. If you already eat roasted pumpkin seeds plain or lightly salted, try turning the flavor up a notch: Toss raw seeds in a bowl with a little melted butter, then add a few shakes each of salt, paprika, cumin, and cayenne. Spread the spice-coated seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, flipping the seeds occasionally. Once the seeds have cooled, you can store them in mason jars or plastic baggies; they’re the perfect portable fall snack.
4. Make a Pumpkin Serving Bowl
For Halloween parties, Thanksgiving, or any other fall gatherings, wow your guests by using pumpkins as serving bowls for chilled or warm apple cider.
Choose a large, unblemished orange pumpkin. Right before you’re ready to serve the cider, cut off the pumpkin’s top and scrape out the insides. Pour the cider into your pumpkin bowl and add a few cinnamon sticks. You can use a ladle to scoop the cider into mugs or glasses. Best of all, cleanup’s simple: Once everyone’s had their fill of cider, just toss the pumpkin into your compost pile.
5. Add Pumpkin Puree to Dog Food
Pumpkin has many health benefits; it's a great source of carotenes, vitamin A, antioxidants, and fiber, making it a healthy food not just for humans, but for dogs too. The best way to feed pumpkin to dogs is to mix puree into their food.
To make puree, slice a pumpkin in half from stem to base, then scrape out the seeds and pulp. Cover each pumpkin half with a piece of foil and bake, foil side up, at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour, until the pumpkin’s tender. Let it cool, then spoon the flesh of the pumpkin into a blender and puree.
You can also feed your dog canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), if you have tons of that laying around.
Depending on the size of your dog and the amount they eat at each meal, mix one to four tablespoons of puree into their food. If you have questions about how much or how often your dog should be eating pumpkin, consult your veterinarian.
6. Build a Pumpkin Bird Feeder
Look for a unique craft idea? Whole pumpkin shells can be turned into an inviting fuel stop for feathered friends. To make a pumpkin bird feeder, cut the gourd in half, scoop out the seeds and guts, and leave a wall that’s a 1/2-inch thick. Next, create perches by using a mallet to insert two sticks that are long enough to go completely through the shell and poke out the sides. Then, tie four long pieces of twine cut into equal lengths together at the very top and connect each end to one of the four sticks to hang your pumpkin like you would a potted plant.
Pour in birdseed, hang the feeder on a branch, and watch birds flock to your new feeder. Just be sure to remove the feeder and toss it before it rots.
7. Let Cattle Graze on Pumpkin Leftovers
As pumpkin season comes to a close, gourds left out in the field or in your garden can make for nourishing feed for cattle. In fact, letting cows graze on pumpkins and stalks gives them a good source of protein.
8. Make a Pumpkin Planter
Perfect for autumn parties and Halloween porch decorations, pumpkins can serve as temporary flowerpots for all your fall picks, including chrysanthemums, pansies, and asters.
Carefully slice off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and guts. Fill the hollowed pumpkin halfway with potting soil. Next, set your plants on top of the soil, fill in around them with more soil, and water them.
Once the pumpkin begins to rot, plant the entire planter in the ground to keep enjoying your beautiful fall blooms.