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Saturday, October 31, 2015

What to do with leftover pumpkins?

Did you decorate your home with pumpkins this Fall? Did you carve designs in pumpkins with the kids? What do you do with your pumpkins after the season is over? Here are some ideas of different things you can do with the pumpkins you have carved or simply placed around for decoration.

I like to decorate around my house with groupings of pumpkins and squash to add a touch of Fall to different areas of my yard. The kids also like to carve some designs into their pumpkins and place on the front steps. You've seen all the fun designs from characters, to scenery images, to different faces, and everything in between. We simply let them draw a face on their pumpkin and use the carving knife and carve their designs. Some really fun faces are the end result and they are so proud!

After Halloween, our carved pumpkins are looking pretty sad. I am one that thinks of Thanksgiving as a Fall holiday, so I'm not one to put out Christmas decor until after, but our carved pumpkins simply don't last that long.

Here are some ideas to do with your CARVED PUMPKINS:

-Feed the wildlife. A pumpkin that you would otherwise throw away, could be a treat for animals in nature. Depending where you live, left over pumpkins (carved or not, and left over seeds) can be a perfect snack for deer and birds. If you have chickens, you can also toss the pumpkins to them. Simply cut the pumpkin shell into several pieces and toss them out away from your house for deer or birds to nibble on. You might also place unwanted pumpkin seeds in a bird feeder and hang from a tree for the birds to enjoy. Be sure to not feed any moldy pumpkins.
                -You could also make the pumpkin shell be the bird feeder itself by cutting it in half and                      filling with bird seed.

-Add to your compost pile. Cut the pumpkin up into several pieces and place in your compost pile to breakdown. Don't have a compost pile? Simply cut the pumpkin in small pieces and scatter it in your garden. It will breakdown and add nutrients to the soil.

If you don't have any carved pumpkins at your home, you might be looking for ideas to do something your uncarved pumpkins. There are a variety of food options you can do. Do not use your carved pumpkin for food choices. After a pumpkin is carved and sitting out, it is unsafe to eat.

The following are ideas for UNCARVED PUMPKINS:

-Make a pumpkin planter. Great use for a carved or uncarved pumpkin. Stop by the garden shop and pick up some flowers. Maybe some pansies, a mum, or ornamental kale (cool crop flowers here in Indiana).You can cut the top off your pumpkin and plant flowers in the top to make a planter. Later you can plant the whole pumpkin in the ground. The pumpkin will break down, and your flowers will continue to grow in fertilized soil.

-Make pumpkin puree. Pumpkin puree is super easy to do and a great way to use the fleshy insides of the pumpkin. Scoop out all the seeds and guts and set them aside for another use. Cut your pumpkin in half and place it upside down in a baking dish with about a cup of water. Bake the pumpkin for about an hour or until the fleshy insides are tender. Scoop out the tender flesh and puree it in a food processor. You will now have pumpkin puree for all your favorite pumpkin recipes. You can also store it in the freezer for several months.

-Roasted pumpkin seeds. What a great way to use the seeds of the pumpkin by roasting them. There are so many recipes and you can season them to your liking.

-Dry the pumpkin seeds and save for next year. You might want to try growing your own pumpkins next season. Clean the pumpkin seeds off and let them dry. Place them in a storage container or bag and plan them next year in your garden and grow your own pumpkins.

-Have some fun with your pumpkins! If you don't particularly want to do anything else with your pumpkins, why not have some fun with it! Have you heard of pumpkin chuckin' with a catapult? Make your own catapult or sling shot, and see how far your pumpkin will fly through the air. Or simply see how far you can throw the pumpkin.

What will you decide to do with your left over pumpkins? Hope you can enjoy one or a few of these options instead of just letting them rot away.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Homemade Applesauce

Have you ever made your own applesauce? Here is a super easy recipe to make your own homemade applesauce for the freezer. You will love it!

My mom has taught me a lot of my freezing and canning recipes and this one is a must to make sure I get stocked up in the freezer each year. The fall season is when apples are harvested here in the Midwest, so I always buy the apples in bulk from a local apple orchard and make my favorite apple recipes, including putting up several of them in the freezer. 

My whole family loves homemade applesauce so it is also a bonus there. We like it slightly on the chunky side with just a hint of cinnamon. Any sauce apples will do, but I prefer a slightly tart apple like Cortland or McIntosh. 

Some Good Applesauce apples:
Golden Delicious
Honey Crisp

Here is the delicious recipe, You will love this applesauce time and time again, It is truly an easy recipe for something that can be a snack, part of a meal, and made from scratch, and doesn't take much time at all. 

Homemade Applesauce
(I don't measure with this recipe as it is all in taste.)

-Peel, core, slice, and cube your apples. Place them in your pan on the stove. Sprinkle fruit fresh or lemon juice on your apples to help prevent them from browning. 
-I use a large oval roasting pan and fill that with my apples. I place it on my stove over 2 burners. 
-Add about 2 cups of water at the bottom of your pan so the apples don't burn. 
-Cook apples until soft. 
-Add sugar and cinnamon  (start with small amounts at a time...this is all by taste and what you prefer!)
-I use a handheld blender and blend the apple chunks to mostly smooth. I like my applesauce slightly lumpy so I don't blend it all the way smooth. 
-Taste test your applesauce. If you prefer it a little sweeter or with more cinnamon, add more to the mixture and blend again. (Applesauce tip - if you want to use less sugar, make your applesauce with a sweeter apple or combine a sweet apple with a tart apple). 
-Spoon your completed applesauce into plastic freezer containers or into jars leaving a inch or so at the top for freezing. Let the applesauce cool completely then place in the freezer. 


You'll love having homemade applesauce in your freezer! Enjoy!

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