It's that time of year once again, pumpkin season has officially begun. I must admit that Fall is my favorite season. The evenings are cooler perfect for sitting by a bonfire with a cup of hot cocoa. Meanwhile, the days are still getting hot, meaning we must dress in layers. The mornings now have cool crisp air, dew on the grass, and are foggy. It just smells like fall! This morning when I went out to feed the chickens, I inhaled deeply, the air was invigorating. I also noticed that some of the leaves are starting to turn colors, it is really pretty to see pops of red and yellow emerging on the trees. While I love my garden, from planting the seeds until I begin harvesting, I am always excited when fall arrives. Fall allows me to relax and slow down. This past weekend, I finished all of my canning for the year. Whew! Growing a garden and canning/preserving the food is a lot of work, but very rewarding. As I pulled the last jar of tomatoes out of the canner, I was thankful that I was able to can 25 quarts. I use a lot of canned tomatoes as I make my own spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and we love tortilla and cabbage soup. The garden produced more peppers this year than any other year. The watermelons have been large and very sweet, and the zucchini and cucumbers did quite well too. One of the last items that come out of the garden each year is the pumpkins. I love growing pumpkins; it is always so exciting when the green pumpkin starts turning orange.
My grandfather always grew pumpkins for his grandkids. I can remember going to pick pumpkins from his house every year, it was always a fun day! When my kids were little, grandpa also grew mini pumpkins for his great grandkids, they were so cute carrying the miniature pumpkins. It is now my turn to grow pumpkins and my grandkids give me a good excuse to grow a lot of pumpkins! It thrilled my heart when my firstborn grandson was old enough to help me harvest the pumpkins. I don't know who was more excited that year, him or me! I took a ton of photos to put into my scrapbook, I think I ended up making 6 double layouts! I now have a second grandson, and this year, my little pumpkin is turning one. My pumpkins will be decorating his first birthday party! My next grandbaby will arrive in January, and I am sure she will also love picking out a pumpkin from granny's garden.
Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere! What to do with all of the pumpkins? I am here to provide some solutions. Many animals love eating pumpkins, so consider donating your un-cut pumpkins after Halloween to a local farm. My chickens devour pumpkins! I like to make my own pumpkin puree for all of my holiday baking. I cut the pumpkins in half and remove the seeds. Bake the pumpkins for an hour, then peel off the skin a use a food processor or a blender to puree the pumpkin. I put two cups of puree into each freezer bag, and it is all used up by New Year's Eve. The seeds can be baked for a fun treat or give the raw seeds to the chickens. The stringy pumpkin guts can be used to make a batch of vegetable broth, and a hollowed-out pumpkin makes a good planter for starting seedlings. If you grow too many pumpkins like I did a few years ago, give them away. I put them out by the road and made a post on my local Facebook group telling them to come and get the free pumpkins. The pumpkins were gone within a few hours!
Pumpkin is packed with fiber, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C. It has antioxidants, helps regulate blood pressure, is a mood booster, can help regulate blood sugar levels, and many other health benefits. While there are many ways to eat pumpkin, here are my favorite ways to use pumpkin puree:
add it to a smoothie for a health boost
pumpkin muffins and breads
3 ingredient pumpkin cookies (family favorite!)
What is your favorite pumpkin flavored item?