Fun with Pumpkins!

Fall is here and I am super excited because it is my most favorite season of all! Fall signifies a time of harvesting and encourages expression of gratitude for the harvest. It is also traditionally a time of preparation for the winter months that lie ahead. Engaging in a ritual to honor these aspects of fall can evoke a deeper appreciation for the beauty and meaning of the season. For example a family I know enjoys apple picking and then canning homemade applesauce each fall. Annual rituals such as these help establish a sense of connectedness with others and a heightened sense of self-awareness.

I got married in the fall (12 years ago this month!) because of how much I love this time of year. I especially loved the fall during my college days. Walking across campus with golden leaves crunching underfoot and a cool, brisk breeze on my skin always put a smile on my face. There is something so wonderfully comfortable about putting on a favorite sweatshirt when there is a chill in the air! I have a well-loved 17 year old sweatshirt that has definitely seen better days, yet it still reigns as my top choice sweatshirt because the familiar fabric is so comforting.

In addition to the meaning of the season and the gorgeous weather, I also love the scents, colors, and flavors of the fall…especially pumpkins; bright orange, smooth, round pumpkins! From baking to cooking to decorating, there is so much fun to be had with the amazingly versatile pumpkin! And because we just made our very first vegan pumpkin pie of the season (which the boys completely devoured today!) I am inspired to share some of the fun things we like to make with pumpkins!

First off it is important to know the difference between decorative pumpkins and ones that are for baking/cooking. Decorative pumpkins are what you traditionally get from a pumpkin patch or a local market stand. They are typically large in size and have vertical ridges on them. They are ornamental and intended for decorative purposes only. The seeds are okay to bake and consume, but the pulp is watery, stringy, and generally unappetizing. However the pulp can provide an awesome sensory experience for young children. They are apt to enjoy squishing the slimy pumpkin guts in their hands! So cut open a pumpkin and let them have at it!

If you want a pumpkin to cook or bake with, a pie pumpkin (sometimes called a sugar pumpkin or sugar pie pumpkin) is your best option. They are typically smaller in size, smooth, and darker in color than a decorative pumpkin. Although they are somewhat small, they yield a surprising amount of pulp. Typically one sugar pie pumpkin can easily make two pies.

Preparing pumpkin pulp is relatively easy to do. First cut your sugar pie pumpkin in half. Remove seeds and membrane (be sure to save those seeds!). Place open face down in a baking dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees. When pumpkin is slightly cooled use a spoon to scoop out pulp. Put pulp through a blender, food processor, food mill, or even mash by hand to the desired consistency. Now it is ready to use in muffins, pancakes, breads, soups, pies, stews…you name it! Pumpkin puree is so tasty and versatile. And if you have traditionally used canned pumpkin you are in for a big treat as fresh pumpkin pulp is 1000x yummier!

Now let’s make sure to do something with those seeds. Believe it or not, you can actually take those pumpkin seeds and plant them right in your yard! Pumpkins are rather hearty and can grow even with very little tending to. Although beware they do take up a lot of space because they grow on a vine. Another option is to give the pumpkin seeds to your kids to play with. They can count or sort them. They can play with them in a pretend kitchen area or even glue them onto paper. However my favorite thing to do with pumpkins seeds is to roast them! After removing them from the pumpkin wash thoroughly in a strainer. Lay them on a lightly oil baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 325. Be sure to keep a close eye on your seeds because they can burn easily. You will want to turn them a time or two while baking. Baking times vary greatly so again peek frequently to avoid burning them.

I hope you and your family enjoy this beautiful fall season! Any fun family traditional/rituals you would like to share with us? Would love to hear from readers like you!

-Sarah

PS. Check back tomorrow for information on Woolies!! What are woolies? See you here tomorrow for the inside scoop! :)

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One Response to “Fun with Pumpkins!”

  1. Megan says:

    Fall is my favorite season too!!! And although we all know that I do love presents (both giving and receiving) Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Mainly because there are no gifts at all and I get to spend time with friends and family in my most favorite space in my house. My kitchen!! Also we usually stay in CO for the holiday and do a friends Thanksgiving. It never has the same people there every year but is always a great time!