Guest Author - Meredith Ball
We all see them. Those sweet, innocent, brightly colored pumpkins waiting to be picked off the vine and brought home. Some are white, some are peach, some are green, but all are growing and ready for celebration. Let's honor the gift of the pumpkin this year by ensuring their full potential! There are so many great pumpkin ideas and uses for pumpkins.
First, most everyone roasts those delicious pumpkin seeds. After scooping out your pumpkin's insides to create a jack-o-lantern, rinse them off and prepare them for baking. Simply spread your clean seeds on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. A sweeter recipe can be tossed with cinnamon and sugar while a spicier recipe calls for a dash of paprika, pepper and salt. After mixing well, spread those seeds out evenly on the tray and bake at 300 degrees for 8-10 minutes. You will smell their delicious aroma and may hear them popping - that is when you know they are ready to enjoy!
Another way to realize your pumpkin's fullest potential is to plant those seeds for next year's harvest. Four to five seeds are planted in mounds of dirt with each mound ten feet apart. The seeds will be planted 3-4 months prior to harvest time. So, be sure to store your seeds correctly to save for planting next year. Rinse the seeds well, strain them and place the seeds only with no pulp attached, out to dry fully. Once dry, store in an envelope. You can then place the envelope in a cool dry place.
All of that lovely orange pumpkin flesh can make for delicious pies, smoothies and muffins when transformed into pumpkin puree. Sugar pie pumpkins and smaller similar varieties make for the sweetest and tastiest purees. Simply cut your pumpkin in quarters, scoop out those seeds, and bake the pumpkin in the oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Once you can stick a fork in the flesh your pumpkin is ready. Let the pumpkin cool, peel off the skin and puree the chunks. If your pumpkin puree is watery strain through a cheesecloth. If your pumpkin puree is not smooth, add a little water at a time while continuing to puree. Make batches and freeze for cooking and baking throughout the season!
Whether carving, baking, planting or eating, enjoy all that your pumpkin has to offer you this holiday season!