Pumpkin guts are kind of gross. They’re slimy, smelly and messy, like the innards of some alien creature. When carving a jack-o’-lantern for Halloween, it’s so tempting to dump those guts straight in the trash, followed by the carved pumpkin a few days later.
Not so fast. The pumpkin is a versatile gourd, and every part of the plant is useful. Make the most of your trip to the pumpkin patch and put those guts to good use.
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1. Toasted seeds. If you like sunflower seeds, then you’ll probably love munching on pumpkin seeds, and they’re always best freshly toasted. Set them aside as you scoop out your pumpkin and wash away the fibrous pulp before they dry. Then lay the seeds out on paper towels and allow them to dry thoroughly. Coat the dry seeds in oil or butter, then season generously with salt. You can also get playful with seasonings. Think garlic salt, chili powder, paprika or cayenne. Spread seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until golden and evenly toasted. Try not to eat them all in one sitting.
2. Pumpkin juice. If you’re into juices and smoothies, pure pumpkin juice makes for a healthful addition. Plus, it’s easy to make. Gather all the stringy bits and seeds in a bowl, pour boiling water over the mess and let it soak for a while, about 30 minutes. Use a fork to mash the guts, then use a fine sieve to strain out the solid bits. The result is a bright orange liquid that can be added to smoothies, sauces, soups and other seasonal recipes. Or, pair with apple cider and spices for a perfectly autumnal drink.
3. Pickled rinds. The rind of a recently carved pumpkin can be pickled as long as the gourd shows no signs of mold or rot. All it takes is a pumpkin husk, apple cider vinegar, sugar, spices, a large pot and some inexpensive canning jars for a treat that will stand the test of time.
4. Bird feed. Dry out those pumpkin seeds (don’t add any salt or seasonings) and leave them as offerings for your feathered friends. If you’re ultra into the Halloween spirit, you can use your jack-o-lantern carcass as a temporary bird feeder.
5. Pumpkin chips. Skin the pumpkin and cut into thin, chip-size slices. Toss with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt and any other desired spices. Set oven to 400 degrees and bake or 25-30 minutes, or until chips are crispy and golden. Hey, they’re healthier than french fries.
6. Food fight! Burned out from all the carving, baking, decorating and trick-or-treating and just don’t have it in you to worry about pumpkin guts on top of everything else? Let off some steam and reconnect with your inner child with a messy food fight. Sometimes what the soul needs is to hurl a handful of pumpkin guts into a family member’s face.
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