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Texas A&M AgriLife—
Pumpkins are a big part of fall decorations and diet, so here are a few ideas to help you best utilize them during the season, according to Odessa Keenan, AgriLife Extension wellness initiatives coordinator for the Healthy Texas Program, Dallas.
“There are many ways to maximize the usefulness of pumpkins,” she said. “They’re a big part of fall décor, including Halloween. They’re also a big part of many seasonal and holiday recipes. I try to find as many uses for them as I can.”
Keenan said once the seeds and pulp are removed for use in food or drinks, they should be immediately refrigerated or prepared to avoid potential food safety issues.
“Once you carve a pumpkin and leave the pulp out for more than a couple of hours, you can assume it’s not good to eat,” she said.
Pumpkins can be used to make a host of seasonal treats and beverages, Keenan said. Pumpkin puree is an easy way to utilize the pulp inside, she said. Puree can be used to make sweet treats like pies, parfait and cookies or savory snacks like hummus. The puree should be stored in the refrigerator and will likely last around four days before spoiling, she said.
Keenan said pumpkin seeds can be a simple and healthy seasonal treat. “Baking pumpkin seeds is yet another way to utilize the pumpkin,” she said. “You can experiment with too much added sodium or added sugars.”
When you are done with your pumpkin this season, seeds can be saved to plant next year by laying them out flat to air dry on paper towels, Masabni said. They should be dried enough within 24 hours and then can be placed in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place. Mark the bag with the pumpkin variety and date.
“If they’re stored correctly, they can last at least five years,” he said. “Don’t heat dry them in an oven or in the sun because it’s like roasting them and could cause damage.”