A Pumpkin, Stem to Seed

How to bake with a sugar pumpkin

You can count us among the many who go pumpkin crazy during the fall—pumpkin ale, pumpkin muffins or pumpkin pie are a few things that we love to indulge ourselves with.

Inspired by nose-to-tail cooking, where chefs use an entire animal with minimal waste, we set out to use every bit of our pumpkin. Pumpkins are one of the most versatile fruits around, so use our recipes as basic inspiration for creating your own fall pumpkin dishes.

Roasted pumpkin, ready to be puréed

The first step, no matter what you’re making: cut your pumpkin into quarters and remove the seeds—but don’t throw them out. Then, brush the pieces with olive oil and roast the pumpkin for about an hour at 375 degrees, skin side up, until the flesh is soft.

Separate it from the skin, then purée in a food processor, or by hand, like Laura did, pressing the pumpkin (and a bit of water) through a mesh strainer.

How to wash and dry pumpkin seeds

After making the pumpkin purée (the base of two of our recipes), we washed and dried the pumpkin’s seeds. Next, we roasted the seeds for around 30 minutes at 300 degrees to dry them completely, then tossed them in copious amounts of cinnamon and sugar (with a bit of olive oil) and roasted them again for 20 minutes.

The end result is a crunchy, sugary little treat that is perfect for snacking on at your next fall party. (One other delicious pumpkin seed flavor idea: salt, dried oregano and parmesan cheese.)

Roasted pumpkin seeds with cinnamon and sugar

The bulk of the aforementioned purée went into a pumpkin ginger bread pudding. For those of you who want to avoid looking predictable with a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, this should be your go-to recipe.

The custard-like combination of pumpkin purée, crystalized ginger and nutmeg made this pudding seem like it was topped with a pumpkin pie—a delicious combination. In fact, Laura said it was the best bread pudding she’s ever had.

Pumpkin Ginger Bread Pudding, by Anne Burrel
Pumpkin Ginger Bread Pudding
Adapted from Anne Burrell

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 c. heavy cream
4 eggs
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. fresh pumpkin purée
1 loaf challah, diced
1/4 c. crystallized ginger, diced
Powdered sugar, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine the heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar, spices, and vanilla and mix well to combine. Mix in the pumpkin purée. Combine the bread and ginger in a baking dish. (We used a 13 x 9 Pyrex pan.) Pour the pudding mixture over the bread to cover and let sit for 15 minutes.
3. Bake in the preheated oven until the custard is set, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Easy bread pudding recipe for fall

With dessert out of the way, what better use for the last of our purée than a nice after dinner cocktail? We used whiskey and apple cider as the base for the cocktail, with the pumpkin and other spices used as well.

We’re calling this one a Fall Classic, thanks to apples and pumpkins being the most, well, classic fall fruits. Just in time for the World Series, too!

Cocktail with pumpkin, whiskey, apple cider

We mixed 1 1/2 ounces of Canadian Club (or another whiskey) with 1 1/2 ounces of spiced apple cider, 2 tablespoons of pumpkin purée, a teaspoon of maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon. After shaking and straining into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a cinnamon stick and a dash of nutmeg.

The drink was on the sweeter side, but the pumpkin and whiskey added nice balance. I know pumpkin in a cocktail sounds weird, but it actually made this cocktail incredibly smooth. It’s a combination of intense fall flavors and we look forward to passing them around at Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations this year.

Ways to use pumpkin

Now, the only pumpkin part we haven’t found a use for yet? The stem. Any ideas?

- Ryan


  1. Vanessa
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 03:43:30

    Wow, I NEED to try that cocktail. This is our first year hosting Thanksgiving and that would be perfect!


  2. rebecca
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 09:45:38

    now i have the recipe! pics look beautiful guys.


  3. Peggy
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 08:33:24

    Awesome pumpkin ideas! If you find a use for the stem, be sure to fill us all in =)


  4. Sasha
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 16:27:10

    You can make little stuffed fabric pumpkins (super easy with some fabric, beans or rice as filling, and a sewing machine), and sew the stem to it!


    • Smith & Ratliff
      Oct 24, 2011 @ 12:28:29

      Sasha, that’s a great idea! You could make some really cute ones if you found fun fabric. (A lot less messy than carving a real pumpkin, too.) -LR


  5. Xiaolu/6Bittersweets
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 20:14:31

    Oh what a great idea and I’ve been meaning to try pumpkin bread pudding for years now!


  6. natalie @ The SoHo
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 11:56:31

    That’s a whole lot of yum. Pumpkins are so versatile!


  7. The Zero-Waste Pumpkin « in.gredients
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 14:25:58

    […] we’re all about minimizing waste, we were excited to see this post from Smith and Ratliff: A Pumpkin, Stem to Seed, explaining how to use EVERY PART of your pumpkin, not letting any of it go to […]


  8. Lauren
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 22:01:37

    Wonderful post on the use of pumpkin! I have to make the bread pudding this weekend.


  9. Pamela
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 17:46:27

    What about the skin? I missed how that was being used. Use the stem as a nose for snowmen when it gets colder.


  10. Patricia
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 18:07:15

    what about the “guts”? There has to be something that can be done with it?


  11. Lisa @ TheFatLossAuthority
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 17:47:20

    Great pumpkin ideas for sure! Nice way not to waste any of it! Very creative recipes too! I’m going to try all of these the next time I have a pumpkin that is :) I have you bookmarked so I will be filing you into my “pumpkin” file :)


  12. Mike
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 13:56:45

    The photograPhy is amazing on this post! Great job!


  13. Kathie
    Sep 08, 2014 @ 23:08:05

    Save those stems for the tops on Velvet Pumpkins!!!


  14. Brenda Cole
    Oct 09, 2015 @ 23:10:04

    You can sell dried stems on Ebay. $20 bucks for 24 stems.! Or use in crafting projects.


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