Pumpkins: Use the goop, compost the rest
Pumpkins have probably been popping up in your local grocery store, farmer's market, and roadside stands--to find a locally grown pumpkin, or pumpkin patch, search on Local Harvest. Carving (or painting) pumpkins reveals the kid in all of us, but remember, it's not just play, it's playing with your food. While you may have tried your hand at baking the seeds leftover after carving, fresh pumpkin is also delicious in recipes and has a superior flavor to canned pumpkin.
Maybe it's their association with creepy jack-o-lanterns, but cooking with fresh pumpkin can be a little intimidating. Carving pumpkins are actually different from baking pumpkins. See these recipes with the slightly different instructions for each variety and the baking, boiling, and microwaving methods for turning pumpkin goop into usable puree.
Once you've got the puree, the real hard part is deciding what to do with it. Really, I'll eat anything with pumpkin in it except pumpkin pie for some reason. Here are some of my favorite uses for the noble gourd:
- Pumpkin bread is my personal favorite. this recipe is much like my mom's, which is moist and sweet enough to eat as dessert but also good for breakfast.
- Pumpkin soup sounds a little highbrow to the uninitiated, but it's actually a really homey, versatile soup that can be spicy or on the sweet side, much like sweet potatoes.
- Pumpkin cookies can come in many varieties. The one I've encountered the most is with oats and raisins, although other recipes have a softer, more uniform texture like sugar or molasses cookies.
- Pumpkin pancakes add a few extra nutrients to a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast.
- Toasted pumpkin seeds are a classic favorite; here's the recipe I grew up with.
There are plenty more things you can do with pumpkin; let's spread the word that pumpkin is only scary if you make it so. Add your recipe ideas in the comments and let's not let all that good goop go to waste this year.
Speaking of waste, if just 10% of all pumpkins were composted, it could save 100 million pounds of waste from entering the landfills, the equivalent of 42,000 households not producing trash at all. Follow these instructions for composting pumpkins; composting after the fun is done is what Great Pumpkin would probably call being sincere.