Most people have not heard of making an ice chest out of pumpkins but it can provide a fun and original way to entertain guests, keep beverages cold, provide after party healthy snacks, and contribute to organic recycling for compost heaps in the backyard. So what exactly IS a Pumpkin Ice Chest? It is a hollowed out pumpkin that is filled with ice in which can or glass bottle beverages are stuffed inside. Similar to a plastic cooler or metal tub that can be filled with ice, a hollowed out pumpkin acts pretty much the same for keeping beverages cold and the ice from melting due to the thickness of the sidewalls.
Most people have not heard of making an ice chest out of pumpkins but it can provide a fun and original way to entertain guests, keep beverages cold, provide after party healthy snacks, and contribute to organic recycling for compost heaps in the backyard.
So what exactly IS a Pumpkin Ice Chest? It is a hollowed out pumpkin that is filled with ice in which can or glass bottle beverages are stuffed inside. Similar to a plastic cooler or metal tub that can be filled with ice, a hollowed out pumpkin acts pretty much the same for keeping beverages cold and the ice from melting due to the thickness of the sidewalls. Depending on how large the pumpkin is, the thickness of the sidewalls varies. Although, even smaller pumpkins, depending on the variety, have very thick sidewalls. Using smaller pumpkins can limit the amount of beverages that can be kept chilled but even for small table displays, they can work as a focal point for decoration or even a theme that goes along with the main pumpkins used for larger quantities of beverages.
Pumpkins are not just a Halloween favorite. They can be used at any time of year for many purposes such as sporting event parties, weddings, receptions, birthday parties, anniversary parties, company picnics, and much more. The added advantage is to not only fill the emptied out pumpkin with beverages, but themes, logo's, words or theme based images can be carved into the outter flesh of the pumpkin too! As well, the guts of the pumpkin can be kept and sorted for the tasty pumpkin seeds that can then be used for snacks once they are dried out, salted or not, placed on a cookie sheet and baked to perfection.
To get started you'll need to choose a pumpkin that has a shape that can sit in a balanced position on a flat surface. Pumpkins that are oval in shape or even oblong work great because the flat side of the pumpkin has more surface area to stay balanced with the weight of beverages and ice inside of it without the tendency to tip over. If you choose a round pumpkin, it is best to choose a very large one with at least a full bottom to it so that you can fit the desired amount of beverages inside without a likeliness of it falling over.
When you have the pumpkin you want, place it on wide spread newspapers or a surface that you don't mind getting wet and slimy. Then, slice across the widest part of the pumpkin in a horizontal cut to form a removable lid. If you're unsure of making a mistake, you can cut further towards the stem or top of the pumpkin and shave more off as you go. Slice off the top of the pumpkin to form the lid and peel the top back so that you have access to the "guts". With a large spoon, metal preferred, scoup out the guts and place them in a bowl or on the newspapers. Be sure to scrape against the flesh of the inside of the pumpkin to remove all the fiberous guts so that you don't create a slimy watery surface once you place the ice inside. An ideal hollowed out pumpkin will have thick sidewalls with very little to no guts attached.
Allow the inside of the pumpkin to dry at least for 12 hours but be careful not to have it sitting too close to a heat source, as the pumpkin will wilt and parts will turn brown or black. If it is summer time, place the pumkin in a cool mud room, on a cement floor, in the garage or basement. If it's wintertime or cold enough for things to freeze, you'll want to be sure to have the pumpkin in a cool plance but not in a place so cold that the flesh freezes to create frostbite that can also damage the flesh.
If you are using the pumpkin also to carve something in the outer flesh, this is a perfect time to do it, while it is drying. You'll want to be careful as to not pierce all the way through the sidewalls though. Keep that intact. You can still shave away the outer layer of pumpkin for two tones of color that can define a logo, image or message without compromising the enclosure of ice. You don't want water leaking everywhere later unless your intention is to water the lawn. If you don't want to carve anything, you can still paint the pumpkin or even take colored tacks or push pins and push them into the outer flesh to make words or designs.
If you plan to have the ice chest inside a house or building where it will be heated, the pumpkin itself should stay in good condition still once the ice has been poured inside of it. It is a good idea however to keep it away from direct sources of heat such as a lit fireplace, propane heater or campfire, as it can still wilt the outter flesh of the pumpkin.
When you have concluded your event and all is said and done, you can cut up the remainder of the pumpkin and bury it or place it in your compost heap for recycling. It's an easy, unique and organic way to entertain.
Local farms are a great resource if you choose to supply a large quantity of pumpkins and they are also often willing to make a deal on larger sized pumpkins that may not be featured in supermarkets or stores. Shopping around at least a month ahead of time will give better flexibility for sources of pumpkins so that you can have the best selections. For summer or spring crops, planning at least six months in advance will ensure that pumpkins are even ready or grown by that time. If you find that is not an option, you may want to consider growing your own in a hot house, greenhouse or indoors as seedlings that can be started far enough ahead to mature in time.
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