How to Use Your Old Jack O Lantern


 How to Use Your Old Jack O Lantern

When Halloween’s over, what do you do with your old jack-o’-lantern? One easy approach is to simply leave it to rot but there are some useful and even some fun things you can do with the old jack-o’-lantern. This article will help you make the most of the old pumpkins!


1. Eat the pumpkin flesh. Any flesh that has been cut from the pumpkin makes for fantastic cooking possibilities. Don’t throw this flesh out when making your jack-o’-lantern. Instead, either use it immediately for baking or cooking, or refrigerate it and use it within a few days. Alternately, freeze it and use it within a few months. Pumpkin flesh can be used in a range of dishes, such as pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin bread. See How to use pumpkins for more ideas of how to use the flesh removed during carving.

  • If you put whole (uncut, not carved) pumpkins out for display and want to use their flesh, rescue them at the end of Halloween night or early next morning before the squirrels, raccoons, or any other beasts start nibbling at it! Whole, uncut pumpkins will store well in a dry, cold place for a month or more.
  • If you decide to use the remaining flesh attached to a jack-o’-lantern, keep the following in mind: the jack-o’-lantern pumpkins are usually different from pumpkins used for cooking and tend to be watery, so you’ll need to squeeze out the water first if pureeing. And there should be no wax or other blemishes on the flesh. Finally, the jack-o’-lantern should be carved and cooked within 24 hours.



2. Pickle the peel. If your jack-o’-lantern is still in good shape the morning after Halloween, consider pickling the rind. The jack-o’-lantern must be clean, free of rot, and not suffering from wax build-up or smoke burns (if you want to pickle it, use a pumpkin light rather than candles). Pickling the rind is common in Northern Germany:

  • Assemble the ingredients. You’ll need 3/4 lb (340 g) sugar, 2 cups (16 fl. oz) of vinegar, and a small piece of fresh ginger per 1 pound (454 g) of pumpkin rind; one cinnamon stick for several pounds.
  • Peel the outer skin off the pumpkin. The rind is the white colored part under the skin. Cut the rind into 2 inch (5cm) squares.
  • Place the pumpkin into the vinegar. Leave it to soak overnight. Drain the next morning and discard the vinegar.
  • Lay the pumpkin on a towel or cloth to dry.
  • Pour fresh vinegar into a large pot. Add the sugar, ginger, and cinnamon stick. Add the pumpkin rind and simmer over a low heat.
  • Cook without stirring until the pumpkin rind becomes translucent and yellow. This will take about 3 hours. Shake the pot occasionally to move the rind around.
  • Store. The rind can be canned or refrigerated. If refrigerated, eat within a few weeks; if canned, follow normal canning instructions and storage times.



3. Hold a jack-o’-lantern smashing party. This use allows you to keep the pumpkins a few days more (if needed) and provides an excuse for you and your friends to get rid of everyone’s pumpkins at the same time, as well as having a party.

  • Choose whose place the party will be held at. It needs to be somewhere with a decent sized backyard.
  • Ask all the guests to keep their jack-o’-lanterns after Halloween. Offer to collect pumpkins for friends who can’t come.
  • Find things to damage the pumpkin with. Suitable items include slingshots, sports bats or rackets, sticks or broomsticks, etc. Or, you might prefer tossing the pumpkins against a wall or something else, or dropping them from on high. If children are involved, don’t use anything that could result in injuries – simply throwing or dropping is best with kids around.
  • Plan a party. Get drinks, snacks, music, chairs, etc., organized. A barbecue is a good idea. Put out candies from Halloween as well.
  • Hold the party. Let everyone who wants to smash the jack-o’-lanterns. Have a prize for the best smashing technique.
  • Sweep up the smashed pieces. These can be composted, buried, or thrown out, as detailed below.



4. Make a home for an ant colony. Place the jack-o’-lantern near an area you know that ants frequent. Allow the pumpkin to start rotting. When you see mold growing on the inside, this is a good time to start.

  • Remove the wrappers from two small bars of chocolate and put them in the microwave in a bowl or plate for 30-45 seconds.
  • Sprinkle some sugar on the chocolate and stir until you get a paste.
  • Apply the paste to the inside or outside of the pumpkin.
  • Observe. You may see many types of ants in you new ant colony.



5. Feed the jack-o’-lantern to the chickens or other poultry. Break down the pumpkins with your hands or a hammer and toss the pieces into the chicken’s feeding tray. Once they’ve pecked off the remaining flesh, remove the pumpkin skin and compost or throw away.

  • If you have a farm, pumpkins make for good stock feed. Or call a local zoo or animal park to see if they can make use of clean pumpkins you don’t need anymore.
  • Don’t feed a moldy pumpkin to animals. If you’re going to use it as food, it must be fresh and in good condition.



6. Compost the jack-o’-lantern. Pumpkins make great fertilizer when composted. Remove the seeds before composting unless you want pumpkins all over your garden next summer! Remove anything that won’t compost, like candle wax, decorations, etc. Place the jack-o’-lantern on a bed of leaves (maple leaves are good) or other plant trimmings inside the compost. Add some more leaves over the top of the pumpkin. Add the usual compost materials over the top and the pumpkin will break down.

  • This can be done in a plastic container if you don’t own a compost bin.
  • Pumpkin can be fed to worms for worm composting too. Break it down into small pieces first.
  • If you don’t want to compost it, bury it in the soil. It will decay quickly and will still fertilize and enrich the soil.



7. Dispose of the jack-o’-lantern in the garbage if you don’t have a garden or compost. Leaving a pumpkin to decompose in your home or on patios, etc., will result in pumpkin stains and mold problems.


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