7 Uses for Your Pumpkin

Pumpkin makes fall-themed dishes and drinks almost too easy. Break out of the seasonal routine of pumpkin soup, pie, or smoothies and delve into pumpkin-based cocktails, breads and butter instead. These seven uses for your pumpkin will give you a new spin on holiday eats.

1.  Basic Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin puree is easy to make and can be incorporated into a variety of different recipes, or served on its own as a seasonal side dish. Process roasted pumpkin flesh for 20 to 30 seconds using the 4 or 5 setting — it’s as simple as that. Use sweet pumpkins or pie pumpkins for best results.

2. A Better Batter

Pumpkin puree integrates smoothly into most batters — such as those used to make cakes, muffins, pancakes — and rich doughs for cookies and scones. It's a basic substitution for fat. Pumpkin puree can replace up to half the butter, or up to three-fourths the oil, in a batter or rich dough, with no other ingredient changes. Baked goods made with pumpkin puree may take an extra 5 minutes of baking time.

Add the pumpkin puree when you would add the fat, and mix the batter or dough according to the recipe. Bake according to the recipe's prescribed oven temperature and time, usually 175˚C for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the pan size. Check for doneness with a toothpick to determine if it needs another 5 minutes.

3. Bake it in Bread

You can make delicious pumpkin bread with your favourite carrot cake recipe — just replace the carrots with 450 ml of pumpkin puree. You many need to adjust the amount of oil; don’t use more than 1 cup per batch. Bake according to recipe instructions, usually 30 to 40 minutes at 175˚C.

4. Simple Seasonal Stock

Stock is often overlooked as an option for repurposing the inedible remnants of a pumpkin after using the flesh. After opening the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and fibre from the cavity as you normally would. Remove the seeds and keep the fibre refrigerated until you make the stock, which should be within 24 hours of harvesting the fibre from the pumpkin. Make pumpkin stock by adding pumpkin fibre to a standard vegetable stock at the same time you add the other vegetables.

5. Whip it into Butter

Pumpkin butter serves the same purposes as apple butter — a condiment for baked goods or a secondary ingredient for other dishes. Combine 500 g of pumpkin puree with 1 cup brown sugar, plus cinnamon and cloves to taste. Cook over medium-low heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until it reduces by half, about 35 to 40 minutes. You can add a dollop of pumpkin butter on top of hot oatmeal or use it to glaze chicken or pork during the last few minutes of cooking.

6. Create a Cocktail

Warm seasonal drinks typically feature apple, but pumpkin can step into the spotlight just as easily. Wow your guests with this pumpkin cocktail — it uses Earl Grey tea as a base and is best served steaming hot. Mix 3 parts hot Earl Grey tea with 2 parts dark rum and 1 part each pumpkin butter and spiced citrus liqueur. Add maple syrup to taste and serve warm.

7. Decorate the Garden

Don’t throw away that hollowed out pumpkin. After you use the flesh for purees and recipes, pumpkin shells make hardy planters. Prep the pumpkin as you would a jack-o-lantern. Cut a large circle in the top of the pumpkin, pop off the stem and use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh, fibre and seeds. Scrape as much flesh from the pumpkin walls as possible. Reserve the fibre for stock and the flesh for pureeing. Next, cut a large hole or use a Philips screwdriver to poke smaller holes in the bottom of the pumpkin for drainage. Insert the plant in its own pot inside the pumpkin shell.

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