Halloween’s here! Have you been swept up in the hype and visited a pumpkin patch or been to a themed event? Pinterest is full of spectacular ideas for carving amazing looking Jack o’ lanterns. Most of us probably don’t have mad carving skills but it is pretty easy to create a simple design. There is a lot of history behind Halloween – it comes from Pagan times where it is known as Samhain. Pagans believed it was the time when ghosts and spirits came back to earth, and the Celts would appease the spirits by giving them treats.
So, let’s start with some tips:
1 – Choose a decent pumpkin. A medium size, firm one. You’ll find so many different colours and varieties. From experience the orange ones seem to be easier to scoop out and carve. The green and white ones can be a bit tougher. Small gourds and squashes make great decor and can be painted.
2 – Cut a hole from underneath the pumpkin, not the top. This is a mistake that I have made in the past. Cutting a lid at the top really doesn’t work well, the lid tends to shrink and then falls inside the pumpkin. If you cut from the bottom you can then use this to put the tea light candle in.
3 – Start scooping. Messy and gooey but great fun! Get the kids to help. We tend to try and get the main bulk out with our hands, but spoons and ice cream scoops work well. Once you have got all the seeds and pulp out, try and scrape some of the flesh out too.
4- Decide on a design. Some like to print out a template first or make a stencil, we tend to draw our design on with a pen.
5 – Start carving. Use a sharp, serrated kitchen knife, poke a hole in the area you wish to start at and start roughly cutting, you can neaten it all up later.
6 – Keep it fresh. Pumpkins can start to go off very quickly, we have ended up with a puddle of pumpkin juice on our window sill! We have been told to use Vaseline on the edges to help keep the moisture in.
7 – Light up. Get a tea light or even better a battery-operated tea light, and enjoy your creation.
Remember, there is no need to waste the insides. You can toast the seeds in the oven with some salt and pepper and the flesh can be used in soups and pies. Once you have finished with your pumpkins, take them to the woods – little animals will happily eat them up.
Happy Halloween, enjoy yourselves!