Pumpkin is truly the taste of the season. In fact, I would dare say that we don’t really think it’s fall in Oklahoma until we visit our favorite pumpkin patch and pick out that special pumpkin for the family to carve.
As a child, I grew up on a small farm where we grew our own pumpkins. They were grown solely for their use as food for the family. We were never allowed to carve them, so my sisters and I would stack them into shapes resembling a snowman’s body, then use crayons to draw on faces, arms, and clothes. Short or tall, slim, medium, or stout build, we had them all. Named after friends and family members, each had a distinct personality.
Eventually, each pumpkin found its way into the kitchen to become completely transformed into a delicious edible dish. There are many different varieties of pumpkins and each have slightly different flavors. But the major differences are in color and rind thickness. Some pumpkins with thin rinds are easy to cut and can be edible but most rinds are discarded. The large orange pumpkins that are sold for carving are edible but are not as tasty as those grown specifically for eating.
How to Prepare a Pumpkin for Eating
• It is always best to select a “cooking” pumpkin when selecting one that you intend to eat.
• Thoroughly wash the outside of the pumpkin with warm, soapy water, even if you are going to carve it before you cook it.
• If you have carved pumpkins you intend to eat do not leave them out more than two days.
• The best possible case would be to carve it on Halloween day, bring it in that night, and place it in a cool dark place.
Cooking the Carved Pumpkin
A quick fact: Most canned pumpkin is actually Hubbard squash. So, if you are making a “sweet pumpkin” pie you might want to start with a Hubbard squash.
• Leave the peel on.
• To cook pumpkin, slice it into chunks about 3″ x 3″. All chunks should be about the same size.
• Steam in the microwave until all pieces are soft like a sweet potato. Let it cool. Peel the pieces, mash them with butter to taste.
Cooking a Small Pumpkin
A small pumpkin can be roasted whole.
• Slice of the top of the pumpkin. This allows steam to escape while it’s baking.
• Roast in the oven for about one hour at 350 degrees. Times may vary depending on the size of the pumpkin.
• When it’s done, scoop out the seeds. We’ll save those for toasting at another time.
• After peeling, the pumpkin can be pureed for cooking soups or use in recipes. Sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon added to mashed pumpkin makes it a delicious side dish to any meal. This dish can easily become a dessert by adding toasted pecans and a brown sugar crumble to the top.
5 Ways to Use Pumpkin
#1) Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds make a very tasty snack. Roasting the seeds is a fun activity that smaller children can help prepare before they go into the oven. Oil or not, salt or not, spicy or not, roasted pumpkin seeds can add just the right amount of crunch to any meal.
#2) Pumpkin Puree
Homemade pumpkin puree is made from fresh pumpkin that has been roasted and peeled. It is the delicious base for pumpkin pies, cookies, soups, and many other tasty dishes. See Cooking a Carved Pumpkin above for information on how to start.
#3) Use the Guts
The guts of the pumpkin can be one of the hardest parts to use, but make a flavorful stock. The guts are stringy and full of seeds but are abundant in flavor. Once you separate the seeds, place the guts in a pot filled with water and boil. Boil for about 30 minutes or until the water changes color. Strain your stock. This stock can be used for adding flavor to soups and casseroles. Extra stock can be frozen for later use.
#4) Feed the Wildlife
The jack-o-lantern that you might otherwise throw away can become a tasty treat for local wildlife. Cut your pumpkin into four large pieces and place in your yard away from your house. Unwanted seeds can be place in a bird feeder or a small container of your choice. Be sure to take time, relax and watch the wildlife (both furry and feathery) enjoy their treat.
#5) Pumpkin Serving Bowls
Turning your pumpkins into festive serving bowls is easy. Place your hollowed-out pumpkins on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Brush the insides with a little oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The pumpkins will be ready to hold your favorite soups or dips. Best thing – you can toss them when you are done.
Pumpkin Patches in the Bixby Area
Carmichael’s Pumpkin Patch
17137 South Mingo Road
Bixby, OK 74008
September 29 – October 31, 2017
Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Carmichael’s Produce sells a large variety of pumpkins, gourds and fall décor. Kids can also enjoy the animal farm and dark house maze for free. Additional activities (available for $2-5) include wagon rides, pony or camel rides, a maze and parakeet exhibit. To learn more, find them on Facebook.
6060 South Garnett Road
Tulsa, OK 74013
September 22 – October 31, 2017
Sunday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Pumpkin Town is located near 61st and Garnett and covers 20 acres, five of those acres are dedicated to a corn maze. The area is filled with a variety of attractions, including a train, petting zoo, tire swing carousel, pumpkins and more. Take a family photo in the oversized rocking chair or one of several photo stations. You can visit their website at http://www.pumpkintownok.com.
Scarecrows in the Garden
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive,
Tulsa, OK 74127
October 5 – November 12,2017
Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays through November 2, 2017
Tulsa Botanic Garden invites local residents and organizations to create scarecrows, which are then displayed throughout the garden. Come enjoy the scarecrows, pumpkin displays and painting, Thursday evening music nights, storytelling and carving workshops. For more information visit http://www.tulsabotanic.org/scarecrows.
Hallow Marine 2017
300 Aquarium Dr.
Jenks, OK 74037
October 27 – October 31, 2017
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Join the Oklahoma Aquarium and your favorite undersea friends for five nights of all indoor fun. There will a Giant Pirate Ship bounce house for kids to enjoy. The Pee Wee Pirate Zone hosts an area just for the little ones with age appropriate games, a bounce house, candy and prizes. To top it all off, follow the Trick or Treat Trail of exhibits to meet all the sea creatures while loading up on treats. For more information visit https://www.okaquarium.org/event/hallowmarine.
6421 E 36th St N
Tulsa, OK 74115
October 27 – October 31, 2017
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Members $7.00/Non-members $8.00 Last ticket sold at 8:30p.m. Get in one hour early on Saturday and Sunday.
HallowZooeen features a royal castle where princesses await your arrival. You can try your hand at archery or take a spin down the royal catwalk. Next you can climb aboard a pirate ship and meet the crew. This island is full of treasures and candy. From pirates to pumpkins it’s hay-mazing. This pumpkin patch playroom has a maze to wonder while collecting candy and enjoying carnival style games. These are only a few of the happenings taking place at one of Tulsa’s premiere trick-or-treat events. Learn more at http://tulsazoo.org/boo.
Trunk or Treat
Bixby’s First Baptist Church
114 E Breckenridge Ave
Bixby, OK 74008
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Parents can bring their children to our event on October 31st, 2017 between the hours of 6pm and 8pm for our Halloween event. We will have multiple activities going on that night. You can come and have your fill of food and fun. We will have pony rides, inflatables, a cake walk, food, and most importantly CANDY! Parents can bring their children, and enjoy a family friendly environment where kids can get plenty of candy without having to walk all around town. We want your kids to have all the fun of a fall festival in a friendly, Christ centered environment. For more information visit http://fbcbixby.org/event/trunk-or-treat-2017.
Finally, be sure to save some time on Halloween night to stop by First Baptist Church here in Bixby for our annual community event held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Children of all ages are welcome to receive candy from the trunks of cars of trusted adults and that’s not all. You can go on a hayride, ride a pony, enjoy inflatables, hotdogs, cake walk, door prizes and all for free.
See you then!
Author: Mary Covey
Mary Covey is a long time member of Bixby’s First Baptist who volunteers her time to guest write for our blog. Mary is an expert quilter, published author, and proud grandmother.