Fall is finally here and with it comes the aromas I look forward to all year. Fall’s produce makes some of the best comfort foods out there, i.e. pumpkin pies, apple cider and baked potato soup. With fall produce available on the cheap right around now, the variety of delicious and frugal meals and snacks you can create are endless.
But we’re not going to talk about recipes today. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the things you can do with the leftover pumpkin hanging around after you’ve made a jack-o-lantern. Or the extra apples you have after an especially successful apple-picking foray. Rather than let extra produce go to waste, take a look at some other great ways to put fall’s favorites to use!
- Roast a Juicy Chicken: an apple can save the day when it comes to roasting a chicken. To prevent cooking up a dry bird, try stuffing a whole apple into the chicken before putting it in the roasting pan. Just throw the apple away when the chicken is done cooking and you should have a juicy main course.
- Keep Cakes Fresh: to extend the shelf life of your cakes (whether homemade or store-bought) store them with half of an apple. This will help the cake maintain moisture and stay fresh longer.
- Soften Hardened Brown Sugar: if your brown sugar has hardened over time due to exposure to humidity, you can bring it back to prime condition by placing it in a self-sealing plastic bag with an apple wedge. After 2 days of sitting in the sealed bag with the apple, the sugar should be soft enough to use again.
- Ripen Green Tomatoes: to ripen green tomatoes, just place them into a paper bag with an already-ripe apple for a couple of days. Reader’s Digest recommends grouping no more that 5 or 6 tomatoes together with one apple in a bag.
- Ripen Other Fruit: apples, like peaches, pears and bananas, release a gas call ethylene gas that actually speeds up the ripening process of produce around it. If you want to ripen other fruits, simply place them in a paper bag with a ripened apple.
- Pumpkin Facial Mask: use leftover canned or cooked pumpkin to make a vitamin-rich mask that will help improve the condition and appearance of your skin.
- Pumpkin Serving Bowls: after you’ve gutted out your pumpkins and used the insides, you can actually use your pumpkins as dishes to serve other food in. Here’s what Earth 911 says you should do:
Simply place your hollowed-out pumpkin on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Brush the insides and the tops with a little vegetable oil, and season as desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, and these babies are ready to serve your favorite soups or dips. They’ll be great conversation-starters, and you can toss them into the compost pile after dinner is over.
- Carved Pumpkin Air Fresheners: this project turns a hollowed-out pumpkin into a candle holder that will fill your home with an amazing fall aroma.
- Floating Pumpkin Candles: here’s what you do according to care2:
Food markets that carry local harvest produce often offer miniature pumpkins. They are 3″-4″ across. Buy six to eight of these pumpkins, and the same number of votive candles (pure beeswax votives, if you can find them). Hold a votive candle over the top of the pumpkin and trace a circle around it. Using a knife, carefully cut out the circle so that a votive candle will fit into the hole snugly. Repeat with all the candles. Fill bowls or pails with water, light the candles and float the pumpkins in the water.
- Pumpkin Body Butter: use leftover pumpkin puree from recipes that don’t use the whole can to make a nourishing and luscious body butter that smells great and does wonders for your skin. All you need is the puree, a can of coconut milk and some ground cinnamon.
Winter Squash (Gourds)
- Gourd Ghosts: just in time for Halloween, make some gourd ghosts to accompany your jack-o-lanterns in the window or on the front porch.
- Decorative (and Functional) Gourd Bowl: this bowl takes a bit of work to make, but it will last for years to come and will certainly be a great conversation piece at dinner!
- Bird Feeder: a gourd bird feeder will offer small birds protection from predators as they eat.
- Easy-to-Make Gourd Candles: small winter squash is perfect for making homemade candles of interesting and varying shapes. Use different wax tablets to create candles of differing colors as well.
- Gourd Garland: here’s an easy fall decoration for indoors or outdoors from Martha Stewart.
- Rescue Salty Soup: alright, this might be considered a food use of potatoes, but it’s very useful. Have you ever accidentally dropped too much salt into a soup you were making? Next time that happens, save your soup by plopping 2 cut up potatoes (in large chunks) into the soup for about 15 minutes. The raw potato pieces should absorb a lot of the salt while they’re cooking. Remove them before you serve the soup and use them in another way so they don’t go to waste!
- Safely Handle Broken Light Bulbs: here’s some unique advice from eHow:
If you’ve ever broken a light bulb while trying to remove it, you know what a dangerous situation this can be. Be safe and don’t try removing the metal ring with your bare hands. Turn the power for this outlet off at the circuit breaker. Slice a potato in half. Push the flat, cut surface of the potato over the metal ring and any jagged glass it may still retain. Turn the potato to unscrew the light bulb remains. Discard the potato and light bulb pieces, and wipe out the lamp opening before inserting a new bulb.
- Skin Care: potatoes can actually help you out with acne problems when applied to your skin. You can try one of two methods. Firstly, you could cut a potato in half and rub the inside part of it directly onto the affected area of your skin (rinse off the juice after about a minute and a half). Or you could make an actual face mask with blended potatoes. Apply the paste onto your face and leave on for 30 minutes before washing.
- Potato Stamps: these are great for kids. Just cut a potato in half and carve a shape into the inside part with a pen knife. Slice away the extra potato parts so your desired shape is what’s protruding. Then dip in ink and get to stamping!
- Soothe Skin Burns: the next time you burn yourself, peel and dice up a small potato and cut into fine pieces. Mix with a bit of water until you’ve created a paste. Then apply this to the burn and let sit for a few minutes. The paste should give you some relief from the pain.
- Cure Common Warts: since raw potatoes are full of vitamin C, potassium and iron, they work great as a remedy for warts. Just cut off a piece of raw potato and rub over wart once a day until the wart is gone.
Have any other non-edible ideas for fall produce? Please share them with us in the comments section below. Thanks for being a Tip Hero!