Halloween has come and gone leaving candy wrappers, fake spider webs, and maybe more rotting gourds than you know what to do with. Sure, carving pumpkins is fun for the kids, and who can say no to some freshly roasted cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds, but once that calendar changes to November it’s a big WHAT NOW?
If you’re wondering what exactly it is you should do with your jack-o’-lanterns and gourds, don’t worry—we got you covered.
If you’re all about reducing, reusing, and recycling, consuming your leftover pumpkin is probably the single most enjoyable way to make the most out of your festive investment. And yeah, ok, eating your child’s carved Picasso-like work of art might not be your first choice, but it should. While carving pumpkins don’t have as much flavor as other varieties, they are still perfectly usable for these options.
Pumpkin puree, while only a step above pumpkin guts in terms of attractiveness, is an incredibly versatile (and simple!) way to turn your pumpkin head into a delicious treat. It’s as easy as baking, boiling it, or steaming it, according to Good Housekeeping. Once pureed, your pumpkin can be transformed into yummy muffins, a delicious pie, or even your very own pumpkin spice latte!
Have you ever had pumpkin butter? If not, you’re really missing out. This is another fairly simple way to have your pumpkins and eat them, too. The best part? If you already made pumpkin puree, you’re partway there. Try this recipe from Oh She Glows. It tastes amazing on toast!
While you’re nibbling on the seeds and buttering up your toast with cinnamon goodness, don’t forget about the other parts of the pumpkin, too! The stringy bits (also known as the guts) don’t need to go straight into the compost. If you’ve hung onto your pumpkin odds-an-ends hoping for a way to not waste them, you’re in luck. You can add those pumpkin pieces with your other veggie bits and make a delicious, homemade vegetable stock.
If you have pumpkins or gourds that you didn’t actually carve, there’s no reason to get rid of them just yet. If your pumpkin is in good shape (no soft spots, mold, or questionable smell), it could last you another 2-to-3 months.
Pumpkins and gourds are just as applicable for Thanksgiving, so why not incorporate them into your tablescape? If you need some inspiration, Pinterest is always a great place to look.
You can also carve out the center of the pumpkin (use the insides for puree!) and make a pumpkin bowl! This is a very festive way to serve pumpkin soup, cider, chili, dip, or anything your heart desires. Sanam Lamborn from My Persian Kitchen has very easy-to-follow pumpkin bowl instructions you can find here! This is one way to ensure your Thanksgiving is extra festive!
If your pumpkins are starting to get a little too ripe for your own use, you can transform that pumpkin into a birdfeeder to feed the neighborhood aviators now that the weather is starting to get chilly. You can either wing this project yourself or try Martha Stewart’s instructions here.
If you’re already sick of eating pumpkin everything or simply can’t stand the sight of them for any longer, you can donate them. Yes, really! Just because you don’t want to munch on them anymore doesn’t mean no one else wants to.
Zoos, farms, animal rescue centers/sanctuaries, and other organizations may be looking for your unwanted pumpkins to give to the animals. Not only are pumpkins decorative, they also provide a nutritional and enriching treat!
Claws ‘N’ Paws Wild Animal Park in Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, is currently accepting pumpkins as long as they don’t contain paint or chemicals. For more information (and an adorable video of a lion playing with a pumpkin), check out their Facebook page.
Through November 1 to November 15, The Lands at Hillside Farms is also accepting wax-free, paint-free pumpkins for their Pumpkins for Pigs campaign. For more information, you can find them on Facebook here.
Sarah is a content writer and social media assistant with a BA in literature/creative writing from Wilkes University. When she’s not spending her days at work writing, reading, and drinking coffee, she’s usually at home reading, writing, and drinking coffee. She also devotes a fair amount of time to HGTV, drawing, and doting on her dog. As a creator, Sarah believes in emphasizing personality through design and DIY projects.