Visiting a patch, picking a pumpkin, and carving a jack o'lantern is an honoured autumn tradition.
But just tossing the pumpkin on November 1 seems like such a waste of all that hard work and fun. You'll be glad to know that there are plenty of ways to reuse your jack o'lantern pumpkins, or to take advantage of all the orange squash in stores right now.
For those of you who plan to eat your pumpkin, you'll be happy to hear that it'll provide you with fibre, zinc, and vitamin A. But while we agree that pumpkins are delicious, they also have uses that go beyond the kitchen.
We've got a roundup of our 20 favourite ideas here, covering all the bases from food to gardening to outright destruction.
Cook Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin puree is <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/pumpkin-puree-recipe/index.html" target="_blank">more versatile than you'd expect</a> — you can make it from pumpkin flesh and use it in a variety of recipes, from mac and cheese to pumpkin pancakes. Either use it all at once after you make it or freeze it in manageable quantities to have it ready to go from your freezer.
Hummus is both healthy and delicious, and part of its appeal is the fact that it's endlessly customizable. One of those ways you can individualize your hummus is by adding in pumpkin puree. This<a href="http://www.treehugger.com/easy-vegetarian-recipes/spicy-pumpkin-hummus-vegan.html" target="_blank"> recipe adds a touch of autumn with cumin and cloves.</a>
Boil Up Thai Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin is used in the cuisines of many different countries, and Thailand is one of them. If you're looking for a way to use pumpkin that goes away from the traditional pie, try a Thai pumpkin soup — <a href="http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001525.html" target="_blank">101 Cookbook's recipe includes rich coconut milk and flavourful red curry paste. </a>
Blend A Smoothie
You could make pumpkin pie with your leftover jack o'lantern, but if baking is not your forte you could make a <a href="http://avivaallen.com/Snacks-Treats/pumpkin-pie-smoothie.html?utm_source=October+2013&utm_campaign=October+2013+newsletter&utm_medium=email" target="_blank">pumpkin-pie smoothie instead.</a>
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
You can do this even before you have to retire your pumpkin as Halloween decor — when you scoop out the innards, save the pumpkin seeds and separate them from the pulp. <a href="http://ohsheglows.com/2012/09/17/how-to-roast-perfect-pumpkin-seeds-easy-crunchy-addictive/" target="_blank">Oh She Glows outlines the steps, and you can customize the seasoning to echo your favourite dishes.</a> Bonus: pumpkin seeds are a source of <a href="http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=82" target="_blank">immune-boosting zinc.</a>
Bake Pumpkin Bread
Take inspiration from banana bread and use pumpkin puree as a flavouring for your baked goods. This <a href="http://www.theppk.com/2008/10/super-moist-pumpkin-bread/" target="_blank">pumpkin bread</a> is also safe for people who don't eat dairy or eggs, and you can also use the <a href="http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies/" target="_blank">puree in cookies</a>, <a href="http://southernfood.about.com/od/pumpkins/r/bl30212s.htm" target="_blank">cakes</a>, and of course <a href="http://www.pickyourown.org/pumpkinpie.php" target="_blank">pies. </a>
Your nutrient-rich pumpkin can help out your <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Compost-a-Halloween-Pumpkin" target="_blank">spring garden if you toss it in your compost bin</a>. Make sure you remove any inorganic material like candle wax, and if you aren't using your pumpkin seeds take those out as well — otherwise you could end up with new pumpkins sprouting in your compost pile.
Your <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2010/11/01/10-uses-for-your-pumpkin/" target="_blank">hollowed-out pumpkin can have new life as a planter</a> for your favourite fall flowers. Just transfer a plant right into the pumpkin, and then put the whole thing straight in the ground once your pumpkin starts to go — it'll help to fertilize the plant as it breaks down.
Brew Pumpkin Beer
Home brewing is taking off, and <a href="http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/community/blog/show?title=beer-recipe-of-the-week-cucurbito-pepo-pumpkin-ale" target="_blank">making your own autumnal pumpkin beer</a> is a great way to get in on the trend. Pumpkin ale may sound strange, but it was reportedly a traditional beer ingredient in colonial times. If you'd like to test it out before you get your own batch going, try a bottle of the pumpkin beer from <a href="http://gib.ca/beer/pumpkin-ale/" target="_blank">Granville Island Brewing</a>, <a href="http://www.greatlakesbeer.com/index.php/our-beers/brands/#pumpkin" target="_blank">Great Lakes Brewery</a>, <a href="http://www.drinkpropeller.ca/beers/13-Pumpkin_Ale" target="_blank">Propeller Brewing Company</a>, or <a href="http://mcauslan.com/en/beer-facts/?brand=st-ambroise-en&id=437" target="_blank">St-Ambroise</a>.
Cook Pumpkin Stock
So you've got a use for the seeds, and for the pumpkin flesh — what about all that pulp you removed from the middle? You can use it to make a flavourful pumpkin stock, either on its own or as an ingredient with your regular vegetable or meat-based stock. <a href="http://www.sheffieldforum.co.uk/archive/index.php/t-521130.html" target="_blank">This recipe uses pumpkin pulp to make a simple but flavourful soup.</a>
Apply A Face Mask
The vitamins A, C, and E and zinc in pumpkin are good for your insides, but they're also good for your outsides, which means that you can give your <a href="http://www.redriverminer.com/?p=1902" target="_blank">complexion a boost with a pumpkin mask</a>. Add exfoliating brown sugar to pumpkin puree — make sure you've allowed it to cool after cooking — and splash in a bit of milk, then apply it to your skin to give it a dose of nutrition.
Sip A Martini
You've got your pumpkin smoothie for the morning, now make a <a href="http://cocktails.about.com/od/vodkadrinkrecipes/r/pumpkin_martini.htm" target="_blank">pumpkin martini </a>for the evening. Sub in pumpkin puree for pumpkin liqueur and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Spread Pumpkin Butter
Just as apple butter is a great way to use your apple harvest, <a href="http://ohsheglows.com/2012/09/11/all-natural-pumpkin-butter-from-scratch-many-ways-to-use-it/" target="_blank">pumpkin butter</a> is an excellent use for your Halloween leftovers. You can, of course, just smear the butter on your favourite bread — or you could add it to oatmeal or yogurt, use it as a dip, or just eat it with a spoon.
Pickle The Peel
No part of your pumpkin has to go to waste — you can even use the peel to <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Your-Old-Jack-O-Lantern" target="_blank">make a pickle</a>. The pickles are a great way to add both sweetness and bite to salads and sandwiches.
Love The Air With Potpourri
Love the smell of pumpkin pie? You can enjoy it without the calories by using your leftover <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/272970/pumpkin-pie-potpourri" target="_blank">pumpkins as indoor potpourri</a>. If your pumpkin isn't already carved, add a few vents once it's been hollowed out, and burn a candle inside after you rub spices in the lid. (Remember, never leave a burning candle unattended.)
Ditch Starbucks, Make You Own Pumpkin Spice Latte
Love the pumpkin lattes at your favourite coffee shop, but want to save some cash? You can <a href="http://www.farmgirlgourmet.com/2012/11/pumpkin-spiced-latte.html" target="_blank">make them at home yourself</a> with pumpkin puree and some pumpkin pie spice. As a bonus, you can make the milk mixture in advance so it's ready to go when you want it.
Pumpkin Bird Feeder
You can share the autumn bounty with your winged neighbours by turning a <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/270039/pumpkin-bird-feeder" target="_blank">small pumpkin into a simple bird feeder</a>. This is a great autumn craft to do with kids.
Layer Up Lasagna
This <a href="http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Pumpkin-Lasagna" target="_blank">lasagna uses pumpkin pulp</a> as a filler instead of meat, making it both lower in fat than the standard recipe, and vegetarian friendly.
Grow Another Pumpkin
You could always use your pumpkin to make even more pumpkins! Save the seeds from your pumpkin and use them to <a href="http://www.almanac.com/plant/pumpkins" target="_blank">grow a new one. </a>Find your <a href="http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/Images/northamerica.jpg" target="_blank">growing zone</a> to learn when you should plant yours by, based on your location.
Have Some Fun!
Okay, maybe you don't want to do anything practical with your pumpkin; maybe you just want to have some fun. If you've got a sense of humour, a fair bit of ambition, and some free time you can use it to <a href="http://www.stormthecastle.com/catapult/how-to-build-a-catapult.htm" target="_blank">make this catapult and send your Halloween leftovers on a farewell flight.</a>
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