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Posted by Sirena Rubinoff | Oct 19, 2009

Re-Usable Jack O'Lanterns

Put Your Pumpkin on Double Duty

Are you sick of seeing all those wasted pumpkin shells in the trash right after Halloween is over? Are you wondering if there's a greener option for your Jack O'Lantern? Well, we're here to show you two solutions to your pumpkin problem. If you're ready to give up your fresh pumpkins, it's time to move on to reusable plastic ones that look great and save you from holiday hassle. But if you like your pumpkin carving tradition and are simply wondering what to do with your Jack O'Lantern after you've used it - well, we have news for you: You can have your Jack O'Lantern and eat it, too! Jack O'Lanterns are great at serving double duty. They work beautifully as a classic, creative, and inexpensive Halloween decoration that looks just as good on your dinner plate the next day. You can even freeze pumpkin meat so that you have access to homemade pumpkin dishes all winter long. You just have to follow a few tips to keep your carved pumpkin fresh and clean and then a world of delicious recipes opens up to you!

If you've decided to skip out on the pumpkin patch this year, you can still decorate your home and garden with this classic Halloween festivity - just look for reusable plastic ones. Synthetic pumpkins are a great addition to any Halloween d├ęcor because they require almost no assembly time, you don't have to clean up any messes, and you can find them in different shapes, sizes, and faces for very little money. CostumeZone.com sells a very real-looking traditional plastic Jack O'Lantern for $11.07. If you're looking for something a bit more quirky, check out this zany Light-Up Jack O'Lantern for only $4.95 from All Wholesale Gifts.com. Or if you want something a little different that still has the Jack O'Lantern vibe, try these Halloween Pumpkin String Lights from Lone Star Trading Company. For only $10.99, you'll get 10 feet of cute Jack O'Lantern lights, as well as two spare bulbs.

All About Pumpkins

If you decide to go with a real pumpkin this Halloween, it's a good idea to learn about this delicacy before you get started with your pumpkin shopping. Pumpkins belong to the same category as gourds, melons, and cucumbers. They are very healthy vegetable packed with a powerful antioxidant called beta-carotene that fights cancer. Typically, smaller pumpkins are the tastiest for cooking, but any commonly sold pumpkin is just as edible.

Preserve Your Pumpkin

If you want to be able to reuse your Jack O'Lantern after Halloween for food, you must make sure that your pumpkin stays moist, clean, and that it does not start to rot or mold while it is doing its job as a Halloween decoration. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you clean out the pumpkin innards very well. Any leftover pumpkin meat will quickly go bad. Secondly, it's better to use an electric or battery-operated light source because the heat of a regular candle will start to cook the inside of the pumpkin before you're ready for it to be cooked. Additionally, electric light bulbs are beneficial because they help you avoid candle scorching, soot, and wax buildup. Third, you should coat the edges of your pumpkin's carved face with vegetable oil before putting it outside. This will keep the edges from drying up too quickly. Harsh weather is not good for your pumpkin, so you should try to keep it out of direct sunlight, heat, rain, and snow when Trick-or-Treaters aren't around. When you're done with the Jack O'Lantern outside, you can keep the pumpkin fresh by refrigerating it overnight. If it seems to be drying up, soak it in water to rehydrate it and be wary of mold or rot.

Endless Cooking Possibilities

The cooking possibilities with pumpkins are practically endless. You can make fantastic dishes out of both the thick pumpkin rind and the gooey innards. So, remember to save the bits of pumpkin that you cut out for your Jack O'Lantern's face and freeze them so you can use them with the rest of the pumpkin rind after Halloween. Just a few examples of dishes you can make out of your former Jack O'Lantern include: pumpkin pie, pumpkin mousse, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin stir-fry with tofu or beef, pumpkin soup, and pumpkin curry. You can also spice and toast the pumpkin's seeds and use them as a healthy alternative to croutons in your salad or eat them alone as crunchy snack. You can even use the pumpkin shell as a bowl to hold your delicious pumpkin soup!

So, go ahead and be creative this Fall. Take a trip to your local pumpkin patch with the kids and have a blast decorating and carving for Halloween. Pumpkins are a great addition to any Halloween set-up. You can put them in the window, on the porch, or out in the yard. They look great and taste great and are fun for the whole family. Happy Halloween!

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