Pumpkin makes fall-themed dishes and drinks almost too easy. Go beyond seasonal staples like pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds and delve into pumpkin-based cocktails, breads and butter instead. Finding more creative uses for your beloved holiday gourd means less goes to waste, so try these seven uses for your pumpkin.
Basic Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin puree is easy to make and can be incorporated into several of the recipes listed below. Process roasted pumpkin flesh for 20 to 30 seconds using the Variable Speed 4 or 5 setting — it’s as simple as that. Use sweet pumpkins or pie pumpkins for best results.
A Better Batters and Bread Dough
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 350˚F for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the pan size. Check for doneness with a toothpick to determine if it needs another 5 minutes. You can make delicious pumpkin bread with your favorite carrot cake recipe — just replace the carrots with 16 ounces 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 350˚F.
Simple Seasonal Stocks and Soups
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 fiber from the cavity as you normally would. Remove the seeds and keep the fiber refrigerated until you make the stock, which should be within 24 hours of harvesting the fiber from the pumpkin. Make pumpkin stock by adding pumpkin fiber to a standard vegetable stock at the same time you add the other vegetables. Try using it in place of chicken stock to make a rich and creamy Pumpkin Soup.
Turn it into a Spread
Pumpkin butter serves the same purposes as apple butter — a condiment for baked goods or a secondary ingredient for other dishes. Combine 1 pound 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.
Sip it in a Smoothie, Latté, or Cocktail
Pumpkins are packed with nutrients, and make a perfect base for a seasonal smoothie. Try our Pumpkin Banana Smoothie for a spiced start to your morning. Or, if you’re in the mood for something warmer, make a creamy, decadent Pumpkin Latté.
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.
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, fiber and seeds. Scrape as much flesh from the pumpkin walls as possible. Reserve the fiber 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.
Cooking with Pumpkin Seeds: Tips and Benefits
Cooking with pumpkin seeds is easy and can result in healthy, filling, and satisfying dishes. Here's how to make the most of this staple.
Best Seasonal Uses for Pumpkin
There's no single list of best seasonal uses for pumpkin — everybody's favorite will be different — but these are some surefire crowd-pleasers.