Seven other things to do with pumpkins

Seven other things to do with pumpkins

More than a one-trick pony (Photo by Cindy Funk) 

It’s pumpkin season, and the conspicuous fruit is making its yearly rounds in the news. Turns out there’s much more to do with the orange orbs than simply carve them into jack-o’-lanterns or bake them into pies. They can be a bear snack or cannon fodder or even mini-breweries. Here, we take a look at seven new (and not-so-new) uses for the season’s sexiest squash.

• Two brothers in Ulster County, New York, have developed a squash cannon that can be used as a fun if impractical way to dispose of unwanted fruit. They say that pumpkins launched from the cannon reach a velocity of 600 miles per hour and have a range of one mile. One passerby’s question regarding where the projectiles land goes strangely unanswered, but the brothers appear to have some concern for safety: they make sure to avoid low-flying aircraft or flocks of geese. [Break]

Brewing beer in a pumpkin (Photo courtesy of Sloshspot) 

• Pumpkin ale is nothing new, but the good people at Sloshspot take the concept to new heights by showing how the pumpkin itself can become a fermenting vessel. This 20-step how-to results in a hoppy and squash-like elixir. The practice looks interesting, but not easy, and not recommended for first-time brewers. [Sloshspot]

• This article from a 1938 issue of Popular Science features a pumpkin farmer who eschewed carving, opting instead to place young pumpkins into aluminum moulds so that they would grow in the shape of human faces. We can see why the trend didn’t stick around—it’s creepy as hell. The baby Buddha pears coming out of China are endearing, but we wouldn’t feel comfortable hanging out in a pumpkin patch with these things growing everywhere.   [Boing Boing]

• At this time of year, pumpkins tend to be merely decorative, but for some creatures, they can be a Halloween treat. The Minnesota Zoo proved this recently by publishing this video of grizzly bears destroying a 500-pound pumpkin. It takes them under 10 minutes to annihilate it. [YouTube]

• The oft-discarded stem atop a pumpkin is good for eating, says Slashfood. The foodie Web site points to the Nepalese dish known as pumpkin vine tips tarkari, in which the stem—known as a peduncle—is sautéed in curry until tender. [Slashfood]

• When looking for a good carving pumpkin, pick an ugly one—so says professional pumpkin carver Tom Nordone, who was interviewed by the Detroit Free Press last week. He also shows how to make a jack-o’-lantern last longer (spray it with bathroom cleaner and bleach) and how amateur pumpkin carvers can improve their creations (draw the face on with a dry-erase marker first). [Detroit Free Press]

• The Chicago Tribune lists 25 awe-inspiring pumpkin carvings, including a death star pumpkin. Also featured are some non-lantern 3-D pumpkin sculptures. [Chicago Tribune]