It’s time to slaughter some pumpkins in the name of Halloween! OK, so there is more to it than that, but not everyone thinks about the pumpkin carving tradition beyond the simple act of grabbing a knife and cutting into the orange orb that features prominently in most Halloween observances.
Pumpkin Carving Tradition in Brief
The pumpkin carving tradition is all American. We were the ones who began using a pumpkin, which is much easier to carve. Other carving traditions include Scottish turnips called “bogies,” and English beets called “punkies.”* Both difficult, but not impossible to carve. The idea of carving faces to ward off evil has lost much of its former impact, and the tale of Jack and his lantern isn’t told as it once was (unless you come to my house).
Pumpkin Carving Tips
With all the pumpkin carving kits out there, finding the right tools for the job is practically a no-brainer. Finding a design is equally easy with all the on-line freebies. However, I’ve found that most of these designs work best for medium to large sized pumpkins, but the small ones are the real tricky challenge.
- Use a serrated spoon: When carving a small pumpkin I find that the addition of a serrated spoon like the ones designed for eating grapefruit are great for scooping out the pulp (a spork could also be used).
- Start at the bottom: It is also easier to cut the hole in the bottom as opposed to the top. This makes it additionally perfect for stacking.
- Draw your design: Use a washable felt tip marker to draw on your design before you carve it.
Fun fact: Did you know that a pumpkin is a fruit? Yep, it’s true. It comes from a flower and has seeds inside, like all squash. Calling it a vegetable is merely a culinary term.
P.S. All pumpkins guts were utilized post carving. Pumpkin seeds are delicious and can be eaten like sunflower seeds. Mix 1/2 cup of washed pumpkin seeds with a table spoon of salt, spread out evenly on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Alternately, Mix 1/2 cup of washed pumpkins seeds with a table spoon of sugar and a teaspoon of Cinnamon, spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.
* Referenced: Halloween by Silver Ravenwolf