Archive for waste not

Don’t Waste That Pumpkin! (pictures forthcoming)

Posted in Cooking, Fun and interesting, Herbals Oils, Salves, Samhain with tags , , on October 26, 2011 by theredlass

As Samhain passes us by and the dark half of the year closes in, many people begin storing up what they need for the long winter. For the every day person, this means everything from stocking cabinets with canned foods to making sure you have salt for the sidewalk and snow boots. For the witch, this can mean a little bit more.

When Irish immigrants turned up on the shores of America, they brought with them many of the old legends and traditions that comprised the Celtic culture after the Christianization of much of Europe. One of these was carving a lantern out of a turnip in order to provide a light to frighten off wicked and mischievous spirits from ones hearth. The turnip was quickly dropped, however, in favor of the easier to carve pumpkin. This traditions has lasted through the centuries till you can hardly see a house during the fall that does not have pumpkins and Jack O’Lanterns decorating the porch and yard.

But has the ability of the pumpkin been overlooked? Where does your pumpkin usually end up once it’s been carved and the 31st of October passes into November? In the trash or in the road, smashed to bits. Oh what a waste of such a virile and generous gourd. In truth, the modern pumpkin has many uses, from oils to salves, decoctions to poultices, the ripe orange rind offers a litany of useful products to the patient witch at work.

First off, you need a large, orange pumpkin with as little spot on it as possible. As you begin to carve the top off and scoop it out, make sure to save the seeds, innards and meat of the pumpkin separately, as each is a valuable resource. You can choose to scrape the meat out bit by bit, which is necessary if you want to keep the pumpkin for decoration. But if you have plenty for you and your family to carve up, it won’t hurt to use one just for these recipes. Let’s start with the most basic:

Pumpkin Seed Oil
-2 cup pumpkin seeds
-cookie sheet
-olive oil
-1 pint mason jar
-strainer
-pot
-ceramic/ glass bowl
-stove/ oven
-paper towel
-mallet

INSTRUCTIONS
-Clean and pat dry the pumpkin seeds and lay them flat on the cookie sheet.
-Cook for 10 minutes or until thoroughly dry. DO NOT LET THEM BURN!
-Take out and allow to cook, then crack open using a mallet and paper towel.

-Gather the seeds and add them together until you have at least 1 cup of shelled pumpkin seeds.
-Fill pot with 4-6 cups of water (depending upon size of pot) and heat it to boiling on the stove.
-Reduce heat to a low simmer and place the bowl on top of the pot. The water should be close but not touching the bowl.
-Add in seeds and oil and stir liberally until all seeds are coated.
-Continue to stir once every 2 hours for the next 12-24 hours.
-Have jars ready and dry.
-Place strainer over bowl and make sure it is stead.
-Using mitts to handle, slowly pour contents of bowl into strainer, letting the oil drip through into bowl.
-Allow too cool for a few minutes, then use cheesecloth to press down and squeeze any remaining oil from the seeds. This takes pressure and time but it’s worth it as you don’t want to waste oil.
-It may take several straining to filter out the seeds entirely, so just go back and forth between the two bowls until it’s fairly clear.

USES
-Pumpkin seeds are said to have a unique effect on prostate cancer and contain fatty acids that help with blood vessels, nerves and tissue. Feel free to enjoy with bread, salads, and (my person favorite) mix the leftover seeds and a little oil with hummus and goat cheese for crackers!

And of course the joy doesn’t stop there. You can also melt down beeswax in a double boiler (1 oz of beeswax per cup of oil) and add in the oil to make a splendid pumpkin salve that works for as an anti-inflammatory aid and helps with dry skin during the winter months.

Pumpkin Infusion
-6 cups water
-2 cups pumpkin meat cubed
-1/4th cup honey
-bowl
-pot
-stove
-strainer

INSTRUCTIONS
-Heat water to a boil and add in pumpkin chunks.
-Let simmer for 4 hours
-Strain pumpkin chunks and set aside for blending (See Pumpkin Poultice recipe).
-Add honey to mixture while mixture is still hot and stir till dissolved.
-Pour into storage container and refrigerate for later.

USES
-Pumpkins, as you can tell by the orange color, are high in beta carotene, which helps with eye sight. It also contains potassium and is very good for your heart.
-Pumpkins also produce Vitamin A, which helps with heart disease and cancers. It can also help regulate in insulin in your body.
-If you want to make an Infusion into a Decoction, reduce the amount of water to 4 cups and boil for 4 hours instead of simmer. You can also add some of the blended pumpkin meat back into the Decoction while it’s still hot for an extra kick.

Pumpkin Poultice
-1 cups pumpkin innards
-1 cup pumpkin meat boiled until soft

INSTRUCTIONS
-Scoop innards from pumpkin and remove seeds. SAVE THOSE SEEDS! (Seed Pumpkin Seed Oil)
-Put the pumpkin innards in a food processor.
-Take the meat of the pumpkin and chop it up into small cubes.
-Cook the cubes in water like potatoes until they soften enough to process.
-Strain the pumpkin into a bowl. SAVE THAT WATER! (See Pumpkin Infusion)
-Blend the innards and meat together until it forms a smooth, thick paste.
-Save in mason jars and refrigerate until needed.
-When needed, heat till warm and place between cheesecloth and apply to affected area.

USES
-This poultice can be used warm to help relieve swelling or an abscess after it has burst.
-Pumpkin can also be combined to help ease a sunburn when used as a cold infusion or mixed with other herbal oils to help relieve dry skin or achiness.

So before you throw out those gorgeous gourds, take a moment and try out some of these simple recipes. Your body and family will thank you for it!

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