We all love to use pumpkins for our Halloween decorating. Jack-o-lanterns and other pumpkin decorations are a lot of fun to make, but, once the season has passed, it seems like such a waste to just toss them in the trash. So, this year, instead of getting rid of your pumpkins, try repurposing them. There are a lot of things you can do with pumpkin leftovers — from cooking them to using them to heal your skin. Here are 15 ideas for what to do with your pumpkins after October 31st.
1. Pumpkin Drinks
Instead of dropping cash at your local coffee shop on a pumpkin spice latte that probably doesn’t actually contain any pumpkin, try making your own. There are two different recipes — a latte made with espresso and a cafe au lait — that are easy to make, and you can drink them anytime you want during the season.
Both recipes use pumpkin puree that you can make from baking the pumpkin (after removing the seeds and guts) and then pureeing in a food processor.
And, if you prefer a cocktail or beer instead of coffee, you can use your pumpkin puree in a seasonal cocktail recipe like pumpkin punch with cinnamon-infused rum from Serious Eats. Or, if you have home-brewing equipment, make your own pumpkin ale.
Try making some pumpkin pie, cakes, cookies, bread, or biscuits with pumpkin puree as the flavoring. Using your leftover pumpkins to make baked goods can be perfect holiday presents for your family and co-workers, plus they will make your house smell incredible. So, instead of using canned pumpkin for your holiday baking, reuse those Halloween pumpkins and make your goodies from scratch.
3. Eat The Seeds (Or Save Them)
Not only are roasted pumpkin seeds delicious, they are also full of zinc, iron, magnesium. Plus, eating them is a great way to get your daily dose of fiber. You can find an easy roasting recipe at Oh She Glows, and don’t be afraid to experiment with toppings like cinnamon or salt and pepper.
But, if you don’t want to eat the seeds, you can wash, dry, and save them for next year, and grow your own pumpkins for the Halloween season.
4. Soups and Veggie Stock
Pumpkin puree is so versatile, that in addition to using it in drinks and baked goods, you can also make it into an inviting soup. With just four cups of puree and six cups of chicken stock, plus some cream, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and parsley, you can make a perfect meal for the cold weather.
And, don’t be so quick to throw away the pumpkin guts. You can add those stringy insides to carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and fennel for a tasty veggie stock.
5. Give Yourself A Facial
Yet another use for pumpkin puree, you can turn it into a face mask by mixing five teaspoons of the puree with three teaspoons of brown sugar and a splash of milk. Pumpkins have vitamins A, C, and E plus zinc, and that means this face mask will boost your complexion and the added sugar will exfoliate your skin.
Apply it with circular motions (don’t get it in your eyes) and leave it on for up to 20 minutes so your skin can get one of the best benefits of your Halloween pumpkin.
6. Thanksgiving Decorations
The holiday season is a busy time filled with hectic schedules and households filled with family and friends. So, instead of completely changing out your decorations after Halloween, you can repurpose your pumpkins for Thanksgiving.
You can paint them white and use them as a vase for seasonal flowers. Then, put them at the center of your dining table and surround them with things like dried corn and scented candles. You can also add ribbons or garland to hide any carvings.
7. Make Pumpkin Fries
You can also reuse the pumpkin skin by making pumpkin fries. Simply peel off the skin into pieces, and then add paprika, salt, and chili powder. You can either put the fries into a dehydrator overnight or cook them on a cookie sheet in the oven. The result is an amazing, holiday treat.
8. Start Composting Or Make A Pumpkin Planter
Using your pumpkins as planters is a fun idea that will last for several weeks before they decompose. You can either fill the pumpkin with one large plant or opt for an assortment of smaller plants. There are two ways that you can fill your pumpkin with plants. First, cut off the top portion of the pumpkin and scoop out the pulp, and then use a knife to cut out a drainage hole at the bottom.
Place a coffee filter over the drainage hole to prevent your soil mix from leaking. Then, fill the pumpkin halfway with soil mix, and place your plants before adding more mix around them.
Or, you can simply cut a hole in the pumpkin that is the same size as the plastic container your plant is in. Then scoop out the guts, cut a drainage hole, and place your plant inside while still in its container. You want to make sure the container has a snug fit and isn’t showing.
When your pumpkin starts to deteriorate, take out the plants, and compost your pumpkin. It will break down and give your garden nutrients and help your soil to be more than ready next spring.
Some people even opt to skip a step and plant the entire pumpkin in their flower bed, allowing the plants to thrive while it decomposes into the soil.
9. Make Serving Bowls
This brilliant idea from My Persian Kitchen allows you to cut down your dishwashing by using your pumpkins as serving bowls for soup or dip. Simply cut off the cap, and then remove the seeds and guts before seasoning the inside with salt.
Then, bake it in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes at 400 degrees until the flesh is tender. For smaller pumpkins, the cooking time will be less.
10. Make Pumpkin Butter
Back to the pumpkin puree, you can use it to make pumpkin butter for a fall breakfast.
- Put two cups of puree into a saucepan
- Add a cup of brown sugar plus a cup of water or apple cider.
- Add whatever spices you like, with popular choices being nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
- Stir the ingredients together and bring them to a boil
- Turn down the heat so it can simmer for about 25 minutes.
After letting it cool, put it in a glass jar and place it in the refrigerator. It will taste delicious on toast or biscuits, or you can add it to pancakes and oatmeal.
11. Pumpkin Candy
A Mexican tradition, pumpkin candy is a tasty post-Halloween treat that you can easily make. Start by cutting a whole pumpkin in half and then remove the guts and seeds. Then, cut the pumpkin into chunks and remove the skin with a vegetable peeler.
Next, cut the pumpkin into bite-size pieces and put them in a saucepan. Add enough water to the pan that will cover the pieces and put a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil. When it starts to soften, stir in one cup of brown sugar, and just like the pumpkin butter, add your choice of spices, like cinnamon and ginger.
Put the lid back on the pan and let it boil until the sugar forms a syrup. Let the pumpkin pieces sit in the syrup overnight so it can soak up the sugar, and then place it on a wire rack to dry. Feel free to sprinkle the candy with extra sugar.
12. Make a Pumpkin-Scented Candle
Pumpkins bring a festive smell to your home, and you can use your old pumpkins to create candles and air freshener.
One option is to place a tea candle inside of a jack-o-lantern and rub a spice like cinnamon on the inside. Make sure to turn the pumpkin, so the Halloween face doesn’t show.
If you have smaller pumpkins, remove the stem and place a tea candle on top of the pumpkin and trace the outline. Then, cut out the tracing to the depth of the candle, and snuggly place the candle into the pumpkin, and float them in a bowl of water.
13. DIY Bird Feeder
A fun project to do with kids, making a bird feeder out of your pumpkin takes just a few steps and tools.
- Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and guts, leaving a half-inch thick wall.
- Cut a groove in the rim a half-inch deep to hold pumpkin seeds.
- Poke holes and insert twigs for perches.
- Knot two lengths of twine together in the center of the pumpkin half and tack the knot to the bottom so you can hang it.
- Fill it with birdseed.
14. Pumpkin Pasta
You can make pumpkin lasagna or spaghetti by using pumpkin puree in your spaghetti sauce, or the pumpkin pulp as a lasagna filler instead of meat. Both recipes are vegetarian-friendly, and a pumpkin pasta sauce is healthier than one that is cream-based.
15. Waffles And Pancakes
You can add pumpkin to your breakfast in more ways than making butter or muffins. The Lovely Little Kitchen has an amazing pumpkin waffle recipe using pumpkin puree, or you can use that versatile ingredient to make pumpkin pancakes that also has whipped cream and chocolate chips.
With all of these ideas, there is no reason to get rid of your pumpkins as soon as Halloween is over. Instead, use the leftovers to make amazing meals and snacks or decorate in a new way. When you are done, every piece of that pumpkin will have a purpose.