For the first time this year I've realised what it takes to carve the perfect pumpkin! After years of wondering why my carving attempts just didn't match up to the pretty, intricate designs on Instagram, I've figured it out ... take the child out of the equation!
Now, this might sound harsh. After all, halloween is a time for the kids to get dressed up, frighten the life out of everybody on the cul-de-sac and generally make a mess in the kitchen by spooning pumpkin gizzards everywhere. But take the child out of the scenario and what you actually have is a perfectly lovely Sunday morning, listening to your favourite podcast whilst carefully and methodically crafting the perfect pumpkin!
Okay, okay, I'm not a complete scrooge .. Jack and I carved his pumpkin and bobbed for apples last night. I let him draw the design on the front of the pumpkin he picked from a very muddy patch up in Lancashire last week. Then carefully carved it for him and laughed as he jumped up and down in his glowing skeleton costume whilst we lit candles. Today however was my day.
Whilst these might look like very intricate designs, they're actually not that difficult to make. With a bit of peace and patience, they're relatively easy but so dramatic and effective - I love them!
The Witchy Pumpkin
I've used a green gourd to carve this design. Green pumpkins are in fact just normal pumpkins but their skin hasn't quite ripened up due to the lack of sunlight. The pumpkins are still big and still mature, they just have not had enough sunlight this summer to turn orange.
Save everything you scoop out. The flesh can be roasted and turned into soup. The seeds can be saved and planted next year.
1 Slice the top off your pumpkin using a sharp knife. Be careful not to stab through yourself or the table!
2 Scoop all the flesh and seeds out of the pumpkin. Separate into two bowls. The seeds need to be dried so that you can plant fresh pumpkins next year. The flesh can be used in lots of delicious recipes
The seeds need to be dried so that you can plant fresh pumpkins next year. The flesh can be used in lots of delicious recipes
3 Cut out two triangles for eyes. Then drill a hole in the side of the pumpkin and gradually twist away to make it bigger. Then push a small parsnip through from the inside out. This is going to be the witches nose
4 Next drill lots of smaller holes along each side and insert twigs for the witches hair. Gnarled and twisted miniature twigs work best
5 Pop a tealight candle inside (battery powered is safer) then put the lid back on and you're done!
The Unicorn Pumpkin
Perhaps the quickest and easiest pumpkin design, this gorgeous centrepiece requires very little knife work! You will need a small, white pumpkin for this. They're usually available at farm shops and I've seen them in Aldi this year.
1 Begin by cutting out the stalk and drilling a hole in the top of the pumpkin. It will need to be wide enough to push a small parsnip into
2 Use a gold marker pen, nail varnish or paint to colour the parsnip in shimmering gold. This is going to be the unicorns horn, so you can paint it blue, gold, pink .. or whatever colour you like!
3 Next we're going to decorate our unicorn with flowers. I've used nasturtiums because I still have a few flowering in the garden. You can make flowers out of tissue if you can't find any fresh. I pushed the small stems into the hole beside the pumpkin. You can glue them if it's easier
4 Now for the eyes. I've used a black marker to draw two curved lines on either side with lashes. If you're not sure, google for a picture and copy that! Practice on a piece of paper first if you need to
5 I love this design! It's so cute, but so effective. You can pop the pumpkin on the compost heap when you're done admiring your pretty work!
The Cannibal Pumpkin
I saw this fabulous design in a shop window .. a pumpkin eating a pumpkin! and decided I wanted to have a try myself. The teeth are a bit fiddly, but with some time and patience this creates a brilliant effect.
1 Start by slicing the lid off with a big knife and scooping out all the seeds and flesh. Separate into two bowls as you'll want to keep both
2 Use a metal spoon to keep scraping away at the inner flesh. It will come away pretty easily if your pumpkin is ripe. I put mine straight into an ovenproof dish, ready for roasting and turning into pumpkin soup
3 Since we want our pumpkin to be eating a little pumpkin, you'll want one side of his mouth much bigger than the other! Use a sharp knife to cut away a hole, then use a smaller knife to gradually carve the shape of his mouth including those sharp teeth!
4 Once you've carved your pumpkin teeth, use the sharp knife to take away some of the orange outer skin. This will create those paler looking teeth from the flesh underneath
5 Create the eyes in the same way. Then pop your smaller pumpkin inside and voila! one cannibalistic pumpkin complete
Not sure what to do with all that scooped out pumpkin flesh? Check out this Easy Pumpkin Soup recipe which takes no time at all to make.