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Food Hack: Leftover Canned Pumpkin

3 things to do with leftover pumpkin.

With the holidays approaching, pie-making season is in full swing, and chances are you’ve got pumpkin puree to spare. If you’re like me, you save it in the refrigerator and wait—wait for another opportunity that doesn’t come fast enough. By the time you pluck it out of the deep recesses of the fridge, it’s dry, looking a bit suspect, and just plain old. Next time, rather than giving that old pumpkin the heave-ho, try these ways to use leftover puree.

1. Give Dishes a Nutrition Boost

Packed with beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin C, pumpkin puree can give any meal a healthy boost. Try mixing a few spoonfuls with yogurt or oatmeal to make a colorful breakfast, or sneak it into other dishes like cornbread, soup, or even mac & cheese! Mix it into cream cheese with a bit of pumpkin pie spice for a seasonal touch to morning bagels.

2. Replace Fat

And while we’re on the topic of health, why not use pumpkin as a fat replacer in baking recipes? Like applesauce, pumpkin puree can replicate the effect (think moisture) that oil and butter can add to cakes and brownies, but without all the calories and fat. Simply use a one-to-one ratio for replacing. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup oil, use 1/2 cup pumpkin puree. For less of a substantial change, substitute a fraction of the fat for pumpkin.

3. Freeze It

When all else fails, give your pumpkin the cryogenic treatment. Pumpkin puree will stay fresher than in refrigeration, and can be left for up to 3 months in deep freeze. Simply place the leftovers in resealable plastic bags, press out the air and seal. When you need to use, remove the bag(s) from the freezer and let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re in a hurry, submerge the bags in warm water. And always remember to label and date!

Photo Credit: Brent Hofacker

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