Does it seem as if pumpkins are everywhere this time of year? You could be right. Although they are native to Central America and Mexico, pumpkins now grow on every continent (other than Antarctica).
American farms grow more than 1.5 million pounds of pumpkins each year. The top states that produce pumpkins are California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
While many families buy pumpkins to carve for Halloween or simply to place "as is" on their doorsteps, there are many other uses for the large, cheerful-looking gourds.
Here are 10 uses for your fall pumpkins:
1. Food (That Isn't Pie)
Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, but pumpkins can be used in many other foods. Try pumpkin ravioli or pumpkin soup, for example. Pumpkin is rich in magnesium and iron, and it contains more fiber than kale and more potassium than bananas.
2. Facial Cream and Cleanser
Pumpkin contains beta-carotene; zinc; potassium; vitamins A, C, and E; and antioxidants — all of which are good for your skin. You can make your own skin cream by mixing 2 tablespoons of pumpkin purée with 1/2 teaspoon of honey and 1/2 teaspoon of soy or almond milk. If you'd like, you can add a drip or tow of your favorite essential oil, such as soothing lavender, to the mix.
3. Flower Vase
Instead of just using pumpkins as part of your centerpiece, make them your centerpiece. You can create an attractive pumpkin vase by clearing out the pulp and seeds from a large pumpkin. Then place a bowl or a glass inside the pumping and fill it with water. Arrange fall flowers and branches inside the bowl or glass.
5. Serving Bowl
Make attractive fall tureens out of pumpkins. Once again, first remove the seeds and scoop out the pulp. Then fill the pumpkin shells with your favorite fall soup and serve. You can also use it as a bowl for punch or for cider, if you prefer. (Just be sure to put a bowl or liner inside to prevent contamination between the pumpkin and whatever you're serving.)
You can also fill a scooped-out pumpkin with ice and use it to keep cans and bottles of beverages cold at a party.
Pumpkins and mums just go together. This year, why not use a pumpkin as a planter for your mums? You can place a potted mum or other colorful fall plant inside a fry, scooped out pumpkin. Add some raffia or moss, and you have a quick and easy fall decoration for your porch, patio, or deck.
4. Candle Holder
You can use mini pumpkins to hold votive candles this fall. Simply carve the pumpkins and remove their seeds. Then place a votive candle inside. You also can add a wick and your own melted wax, if you prefer.
8. Address Marker
Here's a cute idea for your driveway entrance or stoop. Use paint or permanent marker to write your house address number across a large, dry pumpkin. Adorn the numbers with colors, and be as creative or as simple as you wish.
9. Dog Food
If your doggy is having stomach problems, try adding a scoop of pumpkin to your dog's regular food. The dietary fiber in pumpkin can help cure both constipation and diarrhea.
10. Bird Feeder
Don't forget your feathered friends when it comes to fall decorating. Choose a small to medium pumpkin and scoop it out. Pierce holes around the perimeter and then use rope or twine to hang it up to a tree branch or a plant hook on your porch or balcony. Fill with birdseed and enjoy the view once birds recognize the treat inside.
Fresh pumpkins will last several months and even longer of stored in the refrigerator. Air should be able to move freely around the pumpkin to prevent moisture and mold from building up.
Once you have cut the pumpkin, store it in the refrigerator and aim to use it within two to four days.