PEACHTREE CORNERS -- It’s the weekend before Halloween, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to carve your pumpkins.
For $3.50 ish, you can pick up a large carving pumpkin from Trader Joes or Home Depot. Or, if you’re one of the lucky few who planned in advance, you grew your own.
Growing pumpkins is simple- all you need is a lot of open space and a lot of sun. Save some seeds from your pumpkin this year, dry and plant next summer. You’ll be surprised how many pumpkins you’ll get off of one vine.
I have such fond memories carving pumpkins as a child, yet, my most cherished pumpkin memory is the summer my brother and I asked if we could plant pumpkins in our family garden.
My Mom cautiously said, “um, sure,” and without adult supervision, pumpkin seeds were scattered here, there and everywhere in the backyard soil.
We completely forgot about the pumpkins until, needless to say, the vines ultimately took over the garden space like kudzu enveloping an entire forest of trees, and by early October, we must’ve had nearly 100 pumpkins ready to pick.
And all we really wanted were two home grown pumpkins to carve.
So, we set up a modest road side stand at the end of our driveway. With pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, we turned our front yard into a pumpkin picking patch.
For 50 cents a piece, children of all ages could walk away with one of our orange beauties. We sold out within a couple of days as word spread through our community about those “crazy Montri kids who planted all those pumpkins.”
We thought we were rich, and we were. Not necessarily financially (although $25 in the pocket of an 11 year old in 1982 is a load of money!), but rich with the experience.
What I appreciate about carving pumpkins now as an adult, is that the entire pumpkin can be used, and it’s an activity that can be enjoyed by many, with no end waste.
Much of the pumpkin is edible- the seeds and pumpkin meat are extraordinarily tasty. The meat is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, high in dietary fiber, and is a good source of many nutrients including Vitamin A (off the charts), Vitamin C, and Potassium. In addition, the seeds are high in protein.
Pumpkins also compost easily; we even have a “pumpkin graveyard” in the very back portion of our backyard where friends and neighbors can bring their spent pumpkin shells to “die.”
Perfect Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 ½-2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds, washed
- For flavor, you can use a mix of 2 teaspoons butter (melted) and some salt, or you could also add 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce and garlic salt for a different kickPreheat oven to 300 degrees.
Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Mix thoroughly and place in shallow baking dish. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.
After carving, take the remaining pieces of the “meat” of the pumpkin (left over from eyes, nose, mouth, etc.). Note- I would not recommend eatting the pumpkin shell after it’s been carved and sitting outside for several days. Cut off the orange skin. Dice, chop, slice (however you’d like) the meaty flesh and toss with olive oil, salt and garlic cloves. Roast along with the seeds or, wrap in foil and roast on the grill.