Things to do With a Pumpkin
5 Fun Ways to use Pumpkins!
It’s coming up for Halloween and the grocery shops are full of pumpkins.
Although I love cooking with them I only ever buy them at Halloween. I always do the same things with them, but as they are such a versatile autumn vegetable (although technically they are a fruit), I thought I would try something different.
Here are five ideas to use your Halloween pumpkin.
Creating a jack-o-lantern is an obvious choice but Halloween just wouldn't be the same without one.
Last October I came across so many different designs for pumpkins, which made my usual scary face one look boring. They ranged from Death Stars to planets to cats and moons.
You can purchase stencils if free hand is a little tricky.
How to Carve a Pumpkin
Choose a pumpkin which is rounded and sits up well.
Draw a circle around the top of the pumpkin to create your lid. Ensuring there is enough space to draw your design, carefully cut around the lid. Use a small sharp knife which is easy to control, or tools from a stencil kit.
Remove the lid and put aside. Next, scoop out the insides of the pumpkin with a spoon. Keep them if you intend to use them. It can be a messy job, but the vegetable is quite soft inside.
On one side draw your design (unless you are using the whole of the pumpkin). Use your stencil, copy a picture or just do it freehand from your imagination.
You are now ready to carve your pumpkin! Do it carefully and cleanly to make the face clear.
When you are done, put a tea light inside (or a battery operated tea light), light it and replace the lid.
Put it on your doorstep at Halloween or decorate your house for a party!
This is a favourite in my house once we have carved the pumpkin. The soup is quite sweet, thick and delicious on a dark autumn night.
- Insides of 1 medium pumpkin, with seeds removed
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 medium sized white potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- 1 tsp tomato puree
- 1 dash Worcester sauce
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- Water to cover
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place the pumpkin, onion, carrot and potatoes in a large saucepan. Fill with water until the vegetables are completely covered. Add the stock, puree, Worcester sauce and seasoning and bring to the boil.
Simmer gently until the vegetables are soft.
Cool, and blend down using a hand held blender or food processor.
The soup should be smooth and free of lumps. Add boiling water if it is too thick.
Serve hot with crusty tiger bread.
Use the Seeds
Use your pumpkin seeds to plant out next year.
Keep your pumpkin seeds for the following spring, so that you can grow some for next Halloween.
Start your seeds off in pots by placing a seed around 2.5cm deep in a 7.5cm pot filled with compost.
Depending on the climate, start your seeds between April and June, ensuring they are kept in a warm sunny spot. Use a propagator if you do not have a south facing window sill.
Re-pot into a larger pot once the seeds begin to grow, then plant outdoors.
Pumpkins do not like the frost and do well in sunnier positions. Ensure you choose an area with good, prepared soil and plenty of space to grow the vegetables.
You will need to space them about 2m apart, feeding with fertilizer and watering regularly.
As your pumpkins grow they will become heavy. Protect from touching the ground by using planks of wood for them to rest on. Feed with tomato plant food.
Cut off any large leaves which shade the plant from the sunlight.
Your pumpkins will be ready to harvest once they are ripe and sound hollow when tapped. Cut them off before the first frost.
Hopefully they will be enjoyed for Halloween!
If you are a keen gardener or even just a beginner, it is essential to have good compost.
Compost can be expensive to buy, especially in bulk. It is heavy to load and you have to find storage space.
If you have a compost bin in your garden, you can make some great compost.
How to make compost
Make sure you have a caddy or Tupperware box in your kitchen. Whenever you peel your fruit and vegetables, or need to throw away scraps put them in the caddy.
Once your caddy is full, transfer it to the compost bin.
Add water now and again to your bin, and worms if you are not squeamish! You can even put bone meal or manure into your compost bin.
Nature will then take over, turning your leftovers into good garden material.
You can use all sorts for compost, from banana skins, to teabags. Your leftover pumpkin is just perfect.
It will degrade down quite quickly and it is high in water which makes good compost. Break it up before adding to the compost bin.
Will you be using pumpkins this autumn?
You can also make desserts with your pumpkins. Make some easy-peasy muffins and get the kids involved.
- 175g flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 50g soft butter
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 150g cooked pumpkin, cubed
- 2 medium eggs
- 4 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
Pre-heat the oven to 200 C / 400 F / Gas mark 6
Place the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. Stir in the butter using a fork and combine the ingredients, along with the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.
Beat in the eggs and milk until the mixture is smooth. Add the pumpkin and stir gently.
Divide the mixture into approximately 9 muffin cases. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until well risen.
Take out of the oven, cool on a wire rack then enjoy.